Been hot enough for you?
Wait, wait – before you claw out your own eyeballs, either from the heat, or the obligatory small-talk that accomapnies it, have some soup. It makes you feel better. Refreshing, chilled soup. You’ll want those eyeballs to be able to appreciate the crazy green color of this sorrel and borage gazpacho.
“What and who gaz-what-oh?”
Gazpacho is basically a chilled Spanish soup that’s more-or-less salsa that you eat with a spoon. Traditionally, it’s made with many of the same ingredients that are found in salsa, then thickened with bread. And here is my local, in-season recipe for a great gazpacho, accompanied by random “garden porn” shot earlier today.
The brilliant thing about gazpacho, in the heat of the Spanish summer, is that it’s a refreshing cold soup that requires no cooking. Cold meal, cold kitchen. Which works great if you’re living in Spain, where all those ingredients are ready right in time for the start of the hot season. Basically, it’s common sense to throw a bunch of ripe garden veggies in the blender and chill them when it’s too hot to cook. Which is why there are a variety of non-traditional “gazpachos” like green gazpacho featuring cucumbers and white gazpacho featuring garlic and almonds, etc.
But, if you live in Michigan, gazpacho just doesn’t come together right. Here we are in late June with weeks of muggy weather hovering around 90 degrees, and has anybody seen a ripe tomato in their gardens yet? Nada. Even if you do manage to have a few early tomatoes and peppers in mid July, you really want to waste them on tomato soup?
So, I’ve been experimenting with cold soups from ingredients that are actually in-season when the heat arrives in Michigan, and this is one of my favorites. We’ve made variations on it for a few years in a row now, and this recipe is the one that has survived the trial-and-error.
Borage is a self-sowing annual that’s famed as a companion plant for, well, just about everything, which is why it’s a common sight in Permaculture gardens and food forests. The peeled stalks have a great cucumber texture and flavor and the flowers are edible, too.
Sorrel is a perennial spinach relative with a zingy lemon taste, which is why some farmers and sources used to call it “lemon spinach.” Because it’s perennial and as helpful as the famed companion plant comfrey in the garden, it too is a common site in Permaculture gardens. Together these two “Permaculture essential” plants form a refreshing lemon-cucumber base for a chilled soup.
(Sorrel porn – uh no, wait… “Lemon spinach” is probably the least salacious sounding of all vegetables.)
For eco-minded homesteaders this soup is great because you don’t have to cook it, and the best part is that a “pitcher” of soup can be “refreshed” by adding more ingredients, and can last in the fridge all week. You can add other vegetables for a “chunky” texture and variety. All the accompanying ingredients are typically in-season at the same time in the Great Lakes region. They’re all common features in Permaculture and forest gardens.
5-6 borage stalks, soaked in cold water and peeled (or add more for a stronger “cucumber” flavor)
1 lbs (typically one “box”) sorrel. Spinach can be substituted by adding lemon to taste
1 bunch green onions, like Egyptian walking onions
1 bunch garlic scapes
1 bunch cilantro (possibly substitute parsley or other herbs)
1 cup vegetable broth (optional)
1 cup+ of water
1 carton plain greek yogurt (1 avocado for a vegan option)
1 slice white bread or 1 pita to thicken
Garnish: Pico de gallo, salsa and/or hot sauce to taste
Accompaniment: Pita, or crusty bread or tortilla chips.
(Wood betony, now that’s a garden “porn name” if I’ve ever heard one. Meow!)
Harvest and peel your borage. To get the most out of your borage, water it a few hours in advance, or water at night and harvest in morning. To peel borage, peel back leaves, which should take the prickly “peel” with them. This should remove most of the skin, but the rest can be scraped off with a knife. If you’re not going to use them right away, soak them in cold water.
Add sorrel and borage to a blender and add 1 Cup of vegetable broth or water. Do not substitute meat broths as they will overpower the subtle, refreshing veggie flavors. Liquify the the veggies. Add water if necessary. They should reduce down to a fairly thick, smooth sauce.
At this point, the flavors should be very strong, so add water to taste, about a cup, possibly more, depending on taste and the flavor concentrations in your produce.
Now, add herbs, green onions and garlic scapes 1 or two at a time, to taste. More garlic than onion. We’re going for a soup that sings of cucumber, to an accompaniment of cilantro, garlic and onions, with a nice lemony zing riding on top. If you’re using spinach instead of sorrel, add about 1/4 lemon. Basically, a cucumber-flavored salsa mellow enough to eat with a spoon.
At this point, the texture should be pretty liquid, so now is the time to add bread and liquify. Some people like a fairly “chunky” texture, while others prefer a silky smooth one. I’ve made this soup both ways and prefer the smooth texture. For some reason, pita seems to deliver the smoothest texture, and pita chips make an excellent “dipper” for the finished soup.
Finally, add about a cup of greek yogurt (or an avocado for a vegan option) or more, to taste and texture. I go for a soup that’s just barely thick enough to float a dollop of salsa on.
Chill overnight in the refrigerator and pop in the freezer for 10-30 minutes before serving. Better yet, if it’s really hot out, chill the bowls in the freezer, too, for a nice frosty bowl of soup.
Garnish with a spoonful of pico de gallo or a few drops of hot sauce, or both and serve with pita chips, crusty bread, or tortilla chips for a light, refreshing hot-weather meal.
Stay cool, my friends.