Liquid assets: Mark Hix's zesty chilled soups

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

When the sun shines, nothing hits the spot like a fresh chilled soup says our man in the kitchen.

Dreaming up a chilled soup for a lunch or dinner party isn't too difficult at this time of year, with so many great ingredients around – some of them maybe even growing in your own garden. It's crucial that chilled soups are fresh-tasting and have a bit of zing or they can be really quite dull. You can create all sorts of interesting combinations, and at this time of year I often take a flask of chilled soup out on my boat while I'm fishing. Chilled soups are also great for picnics, and for long car journeys when they make a much healthier snack than the stuff on offer at service stations.

Fragrant watermelon soup

Serves 4-6

This Thai/Vietnamese-influenced soup could be served as a starter or dessert; I love the combination of fruit and a bit of spice. Other melons would work just as well – or a selection – and if you can find seedless watermelons even better. Because of the size of watermelons you will have some left for breakfast.

1 small or half a large watermelon
3 sticks of lemon grass
10 kaffir lime leaves
30-40g root ginger
2 medium red chillies
2tbsp granulated sugar
A handful of Thai or normal basil leaves

Peel the watermelon, chop the rind into chunks and put it into a saucepan with the sugar, lime leaves and 1 litre of water, then gently bring to a simmer to make a stock syrup.

Roughly chop two sticks of lemon grass and add them to the mixture; trim and finely chop the third stick and put to one side. Peel the ginger and add the skin to the stock syrup, and roughly chop one of the chillies and add that too. Continue simmering the stock syrup for 20 minutes or until you have about 200-300ml left, then turn off the heat and leave to cool.

Meanwhile finely dice the ginger and chilli as small as you can and transfer it to a small saucepan with the retained lemongrass and about 200ml of the syrup, strained. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes and remove from the heat.

Strain the stock syrup through a fine-meshed sieve. Cut the melon into rough 2-3cm chunks and blend half of it with the stock syrup in a liquidiser until smooth. Mix the ginger, lemon grass and chilli mixture in the syrup with the blended melon. Place in a container in the freezer for about 45 minutes until it's ice cold and refrigerate the rest of the melon chunks.

To serve, arrange the chunks of melon in shallow soup/pasta bowls, pour the cold melon purée over so they are just showing and scatter the basil on top.

Tomato, cumin and coriander soup

Serves 4-6

As you may know, cumin is my all-time favourite spice – it works with all sorts of meats, fish and vegetables and, chilled in this Indian-influenced soup, it's a winner.

If you can get your hands on different colours and varieties of tomatoes for the garnish all the better.

2 red onions, peeled and finely chopped
1tbsp rapeseed oil
2tsp cumin seeds
2tsp ground cumin
500ml vegetable stock
500g ripe tomatoes
A handful of coriander leaves (reserve the stalks)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Gently cook the red onion, half the cumin seeds and ground cumin in the rapeseed oil for 2-3 minutes until soft then add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Roughly chop two thirds of the tomatoes and add half to the soup, season and simmer for 15 minutes then remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Take the remaining tomatoes, squeeze out their seeds and cut the flesh into rough 1cm dice and put to one side. Once the soup is cold, blend in a liquidiser until smooth with the rest of the roughly chopped tomatoes and the coriander stalks, then strain into a clean container, season to taste and refrigerate until nice and cold. Alternatively, you can speed up the process by placing it in the freezer and giving it an occasional stir.

Toast the rest of the cumin seeds under a medium grill and roughly chop the coriander. To serve, mix the coriander and tomatoes with the soup and ladle into soup bowls then scatter the cumin seeds on top.

Cucumber and lovage soup with crispy haloumi

Serves 4

Cucumber consists mostly of water, so it needs gentle and brief cooking to help it blend smoothly and bring out the flavours and to help prevent it separating once it's blended and chilled. Don't be tempted to add more lovage as it will really overpower the soup

1 small leek, roughly chopped and washed
1tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
2tsp plain flour
2 cucumbers, halved lengthways, seeds removed and disgarded and the flesh roughly chopped (reserve a quarter of one for garnish)
600ml vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6-8 lovage leaves

For the garnish

150g haloumi, cut into 1cm cubes
1tbsp olive oil

Gently cook the leek in the olive oil, in a covered pan, for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the flour, stir well, then gradually add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add the cucumber and lovage leaves and remove from the heat. Blend in a liquidiser until very smooth. Strain through a medium-meshed sieve (a fine mesh will trap too many bits) into a bowl set over some iced water to cool it quickly and prevent discolouring. Season to taste. Meanwhile, finely dice the rest of the reserved cucumber as small as you can and stir into the soup.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy, preferably non-stick, pan and cook the haloumi on high for 2-3 minutes, turning as it's cooking until it's crisp, then drain on some kitchen paper.

To serve, pour the soup into large chilled soup bowls and scatter the haloumi on top

Bolting herb soup

Serves 4-6

If, like me, you have a herb and salad garden that gets a little out of control at times and your plants start bolting, don't panic. The occasional cut back will certainly encourage growth and I like to serve the odd herb flower and bolting top in a salad or make a chilled soup like this.

Don't be tempted to use strong herbs or salads – thyme and lovage, for example, can kill a dish like this. But rocket tops and flowers are fine.

The tops from 2-3 spring onions or leeks or a handful of chive tops
1tbsp rapeseed oil
1tbsp flour
1.5 litres vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 large handfuls of herb and salad tops or the herbs themselves ( basil, chives, parsley, parcel, tarragon, salad tops etc)

Gently cook the spring onions, leeks or chives for 30 seconds or so in the vegetable oil. Add the flour and stir well, then gradually add the vegetable stock and any stalks from your herbs and season. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add the bolted tops and/or herbs and simmer for 2 further minutes, and only then remove from the heat.

Blend until smooth in a liquidiser then strain through a medium strainer, as a fine- meshed sieve will not allow some of the bits of herbs through. To keep its green colour, you need to cool the soup down as quickly as possible, so put the bowl of strained soup over another bowl of iced water. Re-season if necessary and serve from the fridge.

If you feel like it, garnish with finely chopped herbs, crème fraîche or even fresh goat's cheese or curd.

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture