Food and Drink 

Dodge the dog days of summer with a cold souper supper


Celebrity chef/bad boy Tony Bourdain pegs the start of his career on one sublime moment: eating vichyssoise.

In his tell-them-all-off book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly , he explains that it was a very cool vichyssoise served to his preciously dressed fourth-grade self on the Queen Mary that launched his interest in the wider possibilities of food.

He was on a trans-Atlantic voyage with his family when a "very patient" British waiter carefully ladled the soup from a silver tureen into his bowl. He can still recall the crunch of the chopped-chive garnish and the rich, creamy taste of potato and leek.

But it was the "pleasurable shock" that it was cold that had the biggest impact. After all, working class boy that he is, he’d grown up, like most of us, on Campbell’s cream of tomato and chicken noodle, and that was soup.

Not that it launched a food career, but I would cast my first taste of vichyssoise in a similar arena. It was the start of a magnificent lunch at the venerable old landmark, Top of the Mark, in the Mark Hopkins Hotel on San Francisco’s Nob Hill. The prairie girl from Edmonton had never before been so engaged in a bowl of soup.

A close second was my first taste of a wondrous gazpacho at the little restaurant in front of the Jai-alai Palace in Tijuana, Mexico, not far from where the Caesar salad was born. Again, it was a crazy paradox of delight on all levels – taste, sensation, satisfaction – that cooled down the parched afternoon heat for hours.

For most Canadians, cold soup is an oxymoron that sounds well, cool, but weird. Certainly nothing you’d whip up at home.

Well, let’s change all that my friends, for with all the fresh produce around and global warming feeling more like global scorching these days, you can make a full-on summer supper with cold soups for main course and dessert. Vary your textures by adding a crisp salad and some snappy flatbreads and crackers, and enjoy the cooler counterpoint to good old Campbell’s without getting into a sweat.

Gazpacho from the hills of San Diego

There are about as many ways of making gazpacho as there are kitchens, but my first experience, as mentioned above, was a full-on Mexican version you could also find in restaurants throughout its cross-border cousin, San Diego. While gazpacho originated in Spain – in Andalusia, to be exact – as a white-coloured soup made from stale bread with not even a whiff of tomato, the recipe below is from a dynamic Mexican friend who lived in San Diego all her adult life. It’s as colourful and savory as Mexico and, bonus, it’s easy to make. Best served next day.

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