Sunday, April 22, 2007

On With Spring...

Spring has sprung (in most cases) and as a result diet will change with the arrival of fresh vegetbles that dont grow in the ground.

leites culinaria has a short but good artical on Peas.

The article taps on the debate on Cold or Hot Pea soup for spring and I thought Id take a swing at my thoughts on it.

In the winter months were more then happy to find a bowl of split pea soup with fresh potato and pork. As we approach on the warmer (For the most part) months of spring we start to dread the coming summer heat and it begins to reflect in our food choices.

Soup, in my very humbled opinion, is the easiest, most fun, and most comforting of one pot meals. I find soups to be the simplest of comfort foods as well as a great source of flavor.

As such the debate of hot vs cold soups in itself is a very tough call. Im not adverse to cold soups in the least, matter of fact I love a good cold soup sitting at a window seat of air conditioned Bistro or small restaurant during the summer. But when it comes down to soup in general Im a fan of pipping hot soup.

The thought of slurping down a bowl of hot tomato or potato leek soup during a summer heat wave may not sound very funny at all, but my mind is swayed by the idea of flavor above body comfort any day of the week.

I find that hot soups really do impart a stronger more robust flavor then cold soups ever will. This of course can be scientificly proven, but Ill spare you the details. Also cold soups can be a little worse for the wear as more salt is required to enhance the flavor of a cold soup vs a hot soup.

A cold soup though can offer a very unique culinary challenge. When dealing with cold soups you have to adjust seasonings, be very aware of consistency of your soup taking into effect cooling thickens soups naturaly, and maintaining color/clarity.

Not only do those factors play into the challenge of making a cold soup, but also the type of soup you are going to make. Any soup high in fat (IE: Split Pea Soup with Ham Hock) will not suite well to cold service. Fat coagulates at cold temperatures leaving a very greesing film. As stated before flavor also plays a part. While some soups lend themselves well to either temperatures (IE Green Pea, Squash, Tomato) some soups dont (IE Chowders).

So whats a good soup to serve cold?

Well, keep a simple rule in mind. If the soup is a pureed thin bodied soup then chances are it will work well cold. Also think of any ingredient you wouldnt mind eating right out of the fridge. Amazingly enough that rule works great, Cucumber soup? Of course!

There are rules when it comes to cold soups, heck soups in general. But more rules tend to bar and control cold soups then hot soups. This should not deter you from attempting to make cold soups, but be aware they do pose a culinary challenge to the unitiated and uninformed.

But whats life without a good fight right? ... boring thats what!

Not to drag to far from the original meaning of the post, I think Cold Vs Hot really boils down to a matter of personal choice. Cold soups if done right and well will make your taste buds explode with flavor, if done poorly... well ever have to drink that medicine when you get broncidus? you know the one that coats your tongue with that awful flavor for hours afterwards.

As for my choice, It really depends on what the soup is and where Im going to be eating. A cold Leek soup at Lon's, sure Ill give that a try... Cold Onion Soup at Mikes Bar and Grill, Ill take the mixed green salad thank you very much.

All in all, if you find a place that does a good cold soup then tell your friends cause theyre hard to find sometimes. And most importantly, be your own judge and jury. No one knows what you truelly like better then you.

Happy eating.


The O said...

To be honest, I don't think I've ever had a cold soup before. Come to think of it, the idea has never even crossed my mind. It would seem to me they'd be gross, but you explain well how that is often the case. You mention various cold soups based on vegetables, but can a cold soup work well with meat in it? (pre-cooked and chilled of course)

The Foodist said...

I just want to clarify that cold soup in no way is "gross". Matter of fact quite the opposite, there are many cold soups that are down right de-li-cious!

My suggestion would be to try the recipe linked at the bottom of the article I linked.

Heres a link for you.

Some of the ingredients may be a little hard to come by, like Creme Fraiche, so try substituting something like Sour creme for it. Not the same flavor but close enough for you Id think.

As far as your question, you know at the moment I dont know of any but I wont go so far as to say theyre arent any because I know I would be proven wrong.

I will have to do some research on it and get back to you, but Im sure theres something out there.

In a generalized answer Of course meat could work well in cold soup. Pancetta works well, as does bacon when cooked crisp.

Ill see what I cant dig up for you, cause I know how you like your Beef Stew with Beer... Damn Irish.