“Food is most flavorful when coaxed with very little,” says Jenn Louis, the chef and co-owner of Portland, Oregon’s Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern, as well as Culinary Artistry, a full-service catering business. Louis loves to cook with the seasons and as simply as possible. Nearly everything in her restaurants is made by hand. Her pastas have earned her a reputation as something of an Italian nonna, and in March she’s bringing out a pasta cookbook, Pasta by Hand (Chronicle), focused on the under-loved category of Italian pasta: the dumpling (there’s a lot more going on there than just gnudi).
By the end of summer, I start to crave soup. But hot soup doesn’t sound appealing on a sweltering August afternoon. Check out my three favorite, and refreshing, cold soups. The first is my gazpacho, crammed with nutritious vegetables with an extra sweet flavor because I make it with grape tomatoes and canned fire-roasted tomatoes. The Mexican-inspired ceviche is a seafood soup that requires no stove-top cooking because the acid in the fresh lime juice actually cooks the shrimp and tilapia. It’s “Mexican-inspired” because I added jalapeno pepper, green chilies, chili powder, cumin and tortilla chips. It’s a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. The last soup is a lightened-up version of vichyssoise. It’s lighter because I skip the step where you sauté leeks and garlic in butter or olive oil (or a combination) and I used half and half instead of heavy cream. The soup is still creamy and rich but isn’t artery-clogging like the original.
Gazpacho with Fresh Basil
You can certainly make this soup with ripe beefsteak tomatoes – just make sure they’re vine-ripened so they boast their true sweetness. Classic gazpacho has cucumber but I love the flavor zucchini adds to my version.
20 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes
2 (14.5-ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 medium zucchini, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 cup minced white onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or garlic-flavored red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine grape tomatoes and fire-roasted tomatoes in a food processor and process until finely minced. Transfer tomatoes to a large bowl and add remaining ingredients. Cover with plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes (and up to 24 hours).