Two Chilled Soups

Here's a couple really simple chilled soup recipes to satisfy your appetite while keeping the kitchen cool. One is traditional and another contemporary; both are delicious. These are part of an article I recently wrote for Artvoice newspaper; to read the entire article--which includes additional recipes and the stories behind them--click here (yes, a bit of shameless self-promotion...I'm getting better at it). Anyhow, I hope you try them; they are exceedingly easy to make and really delicious.

Makes about 5 cups
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 English cucumber, diced
2 slices bread, crusts removed, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and pulse until desired consistency. Let stand 10 minutes; served chilled or at room temperature. Optional garnishes include but are not limited to: diced raw onion, hard cooked egg, parsley, and olives.

Thai-Spiced Watermelon Soup with Riesling
Makes about 6 cups
1 cup Riesling wine
3 slices ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 serrano chilies, seeds removed and minced
1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves removed, minced
2 tablespoons sugar
6 leaves fresh basil, coarsely chopped
6 cups diced seedless watermelon, rind removed (about 2 lbs)
the juice of two limes

Combine the wine, ginger, garlic, chilies, lemongrass, and sugar in a small pot. Bring the wine to a boil then lower it to a simmer; cook the seasonings for 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the basil, and allow the seasonings to steep for about ten minutes while the liquid cools. When the liquid is at room temperature strain it, pressing as much moisture from the seasonings (reserve the liquid; discard the seasonings). Combine the liquid with the watermelon and lime juice in a blender and process until smooth. Serve chilled or at room temperature.