I know I promised you some great fourth of July foods. But, as it turns out, fourth of July food is really quite simple. Especially when the weather is amazing and you want to be outside rather than heating up your house by turning on the stove.
I ended up just making a giant bowl of guacamole, cutting up a watermelon, and making some veggie skewers (Mr. Man's fabulous idea) to grill over at a friends' BBQ. All delicious but nothing that really requires a recipe. I don't even have any pictures of the event like most blogs have.
However, I will offer you these helpful tidbits regarding the skewers. If you are using wood skewers, be sure to soak them for at least 20 minutes before you make them, otherwise they will just incinerate. Also, we marinated some tofu that had already been fried (found at our local asian mart) and they were the best. Even, if you can't buy it pre-made like this, I highly recommend marinating and frying it up before you skewer it, on your own. Made a world of difference.
So, instead of a BBQ recipe I have a soup that I made yesterday. I had to ask Mamacita how to pronounce it and I already forget. So, don't feel bad. If someone asks you what it is, just say it's an easy summer soup that you can most likely make without having to make a special trip to the grocery store. Fine, that is silly. Just call it cold carrot soup. Better?
I am always on the look-out for cold summer soups. There just can't be enough of them in my opinion. They are so refreshing and tend to be quite simple. I found this soup in Paulette Mitchell's book "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup." I bought the book so I could try out this recipe and a couple of others that caught my eye. Now that I have the book in hand, and have had time to flip through it, I want to make them all.
This soup is quite easy. I made it in the morning, let it cool all day, and then served it with little baguette sandwiches.
Carrot vichyssoise with a Balsamic reduction
adapted from "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup"
This recipe originally called for leeks and russet potatoes. I used a regular ole onion, gold potatoes, and added in garlic. Just use whatever variety of onion and potato you have on hand. I think that shallots would be really good in this soup in place of the onion. Also, you can use whatever milk product you choose in this recipe as Mitchell points out (she calls for half and half in the original), just make sure the it's not sweetened if you use soy milk. I happened to have a little fat-free half and half and some fat-free milk and it tasted plenty creamy.
3 cups vegetable stock
3 small potatoes, diced (about 2 1/4 c.)
1 small onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced
3 carrots, sliced into coins (about 1 1/4 c.)
1 c. milk product (half and half, milk, soy milk, whatever)
salt and pepper, to taste
Place the stock, potatoes, onion, garlic, and carrots into a saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and continue to cook, covered for approximately 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Then puree the soup either using a blender or hand-held blender. Once this is done whisk in the milk product. Add the salt and pepper to taste and then chill for at least four hours.
This was the first time I have ever made a reduction. Allow me to pass along some lessons I learned. First of all, definitely do not substitute pomegranate molasses because you are too lazy to go to the store. Just omit the molasses if you don't have any. Also, it is better to under-reduce rather than over-reduce. Otherwise you will wind up with a "reduction" that is more the consistency of hard candy or some weird derivative thereof. Also, if you just don't feel like dealing with any of this, just drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the soup straight from the bottle. Oh, and if you are using super-high quality balsamic, omit the molasses, it is there to make it taste expensive. Okay, I think that is enough notes on this reduction that takes two ingredients (or one).
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. molasses
Combine both the vinegar and molasses in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer and continue to cook it, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced by half. This should take about 5-8 minutes. Just keep an eye on it and the reduction will turn out just fine.
Remove from heat, and chill until you are ready to drizzle it over the soup just before serving.