Lite Lunch


Lite Lunch

Ana B. Remos


Making broths, soups and chowders always gives me that feeling of goddess-like domesticity.



Photo: Heike Rau / 123RF Stock Photo.

Making broths, soups and chowders always gives me that feeling of goddess-like domesticity. It must be because I think soups must be among the most rudimentary and basic of all kitchen endeavors. There is something about putting a large pot on the stove, filling it with vegetables, herbs and broth and letting it all simmer together that sustains me, over and over again. Soups are comforting and familiar; they are like food for the soul.

I often make soups on Sunday evenings as a way to clean out my refrigerator and begin the week anew. Using slightly wilted vegetables and even their stems and leaves to make a simple broth results in more flavorful soups, eliminating the need for lots of heavy cream or tons of salt. Mushroom, cauliflower, broccoli stems and asparagus spears, in particular, add incredible depth of flavor. It is really not complicated to just boil a little water with a bunch of peppercorns and a bay leaf with things that were going to be thrown out anyway.

Some soups are perfect when served cold, others must be served hot and there are those that may be served either way. In the summer months, I always have a batch of cold soup in the refrigerator and eat it most nights when we are not out to dinner. Hot and hearty soups may seem only appropriate in the winter months, but I actually find myself serving them on cool summer evenings, when the sun goes down and the ocean breezes come up. A simple bowl of hot soup finishes the day on a glorious and comforting note. I like making soups heartier by adding generous garnishes like crabmeat, grilled shrimp, mango chutney, dollops of yogurt and croutons.

For a swell dinner party, I add luxurious notes such as grilled lobster or a dollop of caviar. For a midweek dinner, there is nothing as delicious as soup accompanied by a slice of buttered bread, or toasted bread floating in soup with a poached egg on top. It makes for a soothing, nourishing main course.

One of my favorite dinners is a hearty soup like the Shrimp and Crab Curry chowder followed by a green salad and cheese curse. I often serve this for dinner parties in Palm Beach during the height of the season, when we are all tired of lamb chops or chicken, and in Southampton during winter months when we can gather around the fireplace for a cozy dinner at home.

I am not a fan of plating hot soups at the beginning of dinner parties. By the time everyone sits down, the soup is at room temperature, or worse, tepid. Invest in one or two soup tureens and pass the soup with a ladle. It’s a wise purchase even if you don’t serve soup often, because the tureen can double as an elegant centerpiece on its own, filled with greenery or fruits if you like.

White and Green Asparagus Soup

Whenever white asparagus appears in the market, I always grab a bunch to make this soup. Of course, when green asparagus are plentiful in the spring, I make this soup all of the time. For an extravagant first course, serve this soup with a drizzle of truffle olive oil. For somewhat elegant dinner parties, I make a batch of each, white and green, and pour them both into a large soup tureen. The colors remain separated until you stir it to serve, making a dazzling presentation. Serve this soup with crunchy croutons made in butter or slivers of crispy Serrano ham.

Ingredients [Serves 6]
3 lbs. green or white asparagus, trimmed, peeled and chopped, stems and peel reserved
5 cups homemade vegetable broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, carefully washed and sliced, white part only
1 small potato, peeled and diced
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and white pepper

In a large stockpot over medium heat, combine the broth, stems and peels and simmer until very fragrant, about 30 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and discard the solids. Set aside. In another stockpot, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the leek and sauté until soft. Add the potato, asparagus spears and 4 cups of the reserved asparagus broth; season with salt and white pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the potatoes and the asparagus become tender, about 20 minutes. Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender until silky and pass through a sieve. Add the heavy cream. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Watercress Soup

I was told that spicy watercress grows on one side of the river while the sweet one we all love grows on the other. Well, I have actually picked watercress from the side of rivers but I was too young to appreciate its flavors until much later in life. When I think back on it, I believe I must have tried the spicy one. At local markets, only sweet watercress is available. It makes a delicious, bright and flavorful soup perfect for year-round entertaining. It lends itself to all manner of garnishes. I love a simple dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream.

Ingredients [Serves 6]
1 yellow potato, peeled and diced
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
6 cups homemade chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream
4 cups fresh watercress, stems removed
Salt and fresh ground pepper

In a large stock pot over medium heat, combine the potato, onion, broth and heavy cream; season generously with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the watercress and cook until softened, about 3 more minutes. In a blender, working in batches, purée the soup until smooth; strain through a medium sieve. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Zucchini Soup

The delicate flavor of zucchini, its versatility, quick growing season and price make it a fantastic year-round ingredient. I adore zucchini grilled, sautéed, fried, steamed and baked. Simply seasoned or extravagantly prepared, zucchini lends itself to all manner of preparation. I often use it in winter months as a filling for vegetable lasagna in place of creamed spinach and as side dish with fish. In this soup, the onions and the zucchini are sautéed and slightly browned to bring out their depth of flavor, then puréed to the desired consistency. For the children, I add a handful of rice to the zucchini to make it richer and creamier. Serve hot or cold.

Ingredients [Serves 8]
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
4 pounds zucchini, diced
4 cups homemade chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and fresh ground pepper

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and stir. Add the chopped zucchini and stir. Add the chicken stock, raise the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. In a blender, working in batches, purée until smooth; season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Stir in the basil just before serving.

Senegalese Soup, British Style

This super-easy curry-based cream soup is delightful year-round. Serve it garnished with diced chicken, grilled shrimp or mango chutney from a jar. Use homemade chicken broth if at all possible; otherwise, chose a very good quality packaged version, preferably organic and low-sodium. Taste the broth before using to insure that it will not overpower the delicate flavors here.

Ingredients [Serves 8 to 10]
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) butter
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons flour
1 quart homemade chicken stock or organic, low-sodium canned
juice of two lemons
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and white pepper

In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the curry powder and stir for the curry to become fragrant. Add the flour and combine well. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes to thicken. Add the lemon juice and remove from the heat. Cool slightly, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture from forming a crust. Add the heavy cream and season with salt and white pepper. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Smoked Salmon Soup

My sister Silvia, who is a wonderful cook, gave me this recipe. I have made it regularly ever since, to great reviews. It is rich, creamy and elegant; the perfect beginning for a swell dinner. I find that a hearty soup deserves a hearty second course, if not in substance, definitely in taste and flavor. Serve this followed by a beef tenderloin or roast chicken.

Ingredients [Serves 6]
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) butter
4 leeks, carefully cleaned and thinly sliced, white part only
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 quarts fish or seafood stock
1 large potato, peeled and diced
½ lb. smoked salmon, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus more for garnish
3 cups heavy cream
Salt and white pepper

In a large stockpot, over low heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and garlic and sauté until soft, being careful not to brown them. Add the potatoes and the stock. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potato is totally soft. Remove from the heat and let cool until no longer smoking. Add the smoked salmon. In a blender and working in batches, purée the mixture until smooth (using a blender will result in a finer texture than the food processor). Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Stir in the heavy cream and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish with chopped chives, mango chutney, salmon caviar or additional diced smoked salmon.


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