Chilled soups are deliciously refreshing to enjoy for lunch or dinner on a warm summer evening. As a starter, a main meal or a dessert, they provide colour, texture and, most importantly, invigorating flavours.
Gazpacho (gaspacho in Portugal) is probably the most classic of chilled soups. Plenty of ripe and colourful fresh tomatoes, capsicums, cucumber and herbs are diced and almost marinated in olive oil and vinegar. You can use a variety of tomatoes to provide more colour.
If you don't grow your own, shop at a farmers' market where you will be able to pick up all sorts of colours and sizes. Though the larger tomatoes need to be diced, small yellow tomatoes can be halved and added to the soup. When I buy capsicums, I usually choose the red, yellow or orange varieties over the green because I am not too fond of the bitter taste, but the bitterness works perfectly in this case, contributing a sharpness to the recipe. With the addition of white port, the result tastes like sunshine in a spoonful - delicious, healthy and very simple to make - the perfect summer food.
The carrot, orange and paprika soup is bursting with flavour and goodness, using basic but good quality ingredients.
This soup can be made at least two days in advance. Though the flavours are fantastic straight away, after a period in the fridge, they are even more so - and the garlic has relaxed a tad.
The third recipe is a sweet chilled soup which, when served in beautiful bowls or elegant glasses, make a lovely dessert. Fresh mangoes are easy to find; those from Queensland are large and more expensive than the Mexican ones but their flavour is amazing, so choose which you prefer- just don't use tinned for this recipe because the flavour is not the same.
I have paired the mango with honeydew melon but rockmelon could be substituted, and almonds or shredded coconut could be substituted for the pistachio nuts. All you need to do is whizz the ingredients together and taste for sweetness - extra honey may need to be added depending on the ripeness and sweetness of the fruit. The rum is optional as is the quantity. Pour the soup into the bowls or glasses which you have previously chilled. Whisk the coconut cream until it becomes thick and drop a spoonful on the surface with a sprinkle of nuts.
In the gaspacho recipe, the onions are covered with water and left to soak before draining which allows their flavour to mellow. Use the best quality vinegars and oils you can find - you only need a little to make the flavour noticeably superior.
For more of Amanda Laird's fabulous recipes, visit foodhub.co.nz