Here in the land of the arctic tundra, we get plenty of use out of our soup pots. From fall to spring, there are endless opportunities to warm up a chilly day with a delicious bowl of steaming soup. In the summertime, though, we tend to pack those pots away and head outdoors to grill most of our meals. While I love to fire up the grill, I’d like to make a case for soup.
It satisfies a multitude of summer needs. Want to clean out the refrigerator before you head to the cabin? Make a pot of soup. Want a meal that can be made a bit ahead and held on the stove for family members to dip into between their summer fun and busy schedules? Make a pot of soup. Looking for a one-pot meal that keeps cleanup to a minimum and leaves the summer evening for you to enjoy? Make a pot of soup.
If these reasons haven’t convinced you, consider the best one: Soup is a great way to highlight the bounty of the season. There are so many beautiful vegetables coming to our markets this time of year and soup is an easy way to enjoy them to their fullest. Fill up your basket at the farmers market because you can pack a ton of healthful produce into a bowl of soup, which also is a wonderful vehicle for introducing your kids to new vegetables. Small children are often much more willing to try a new ingredient if it’s swimming around in a bowl along with a few familiar ones.
While I love a good old-fashioned vegetable soup, especially when it’s loaded with fresh green beans, colorful summer squashes and dense cubes of just harvested new potatoes, there are many different kinds of soup that are perfect for a summer meal. Chowder packed with clams and fresh summer corn, or chilled tomato, pepper and cucumber-filled gazpacho or vichyssoise (the chilled potato soup) all are terrific options.
For a change of pace, I like to make a soup that relies on a summer side-dish staple: succotash. The combination of corn and lima beans is irresistible and, when paired with half-moons of turkey kielbasa, it’s even better. To gild the lily just a bit, I like to splash a little cream into the soup at the end. All you need is a salad of summer lettuces and a loaf of crusty bread and dinner is served, all in under 30 minutes. That will leave you plenty of time for that much needed after-dinner walk. There’s nothing better on a warm summer night.
Meredith Deeds of Edina is the author of “Everyday to Entertaining” and “The Big Book of Appetizers.” Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @meredithdeeds.