Even when it’s hot outside … Soup’s On!

If you can have cake for breakfast — coffee cake, cheesecake, pancakes — and breakfast for dinner, what's to keep you from sipping a little soup for dessert? There is nothing in the definition of soup that says it has to be loaded with chicken and noodles; why not honeydew and lemon, or mango and raspberry, or chocolate with toasted nuts.

One of the best things about dessert soups in the summer is that many of them require no heating at all; a blender and some fruit are all you need. To get you started, I have five super-easy, mouthwatering soups for finishing a summer meal with exotic flavor and a little sophistication. All of them can be made ahead, and can also be served as a first course with a light dinner.

Honeydew-Mint Soup


Think of this soup as drinkable melon. The only challenge is finding a ripe honeydew. Look for specimens with a golden blush that are slightly soft and that radiate a strong perfume when sniffed at one end. If the melons you find don't meet these criteria, don't buy them. They will be bland and hard.

1 large or 2 small ripe honeydew melons, halved, seeds removed
3 Tbsps. lime or lemon juice, organic bottled or fresh
pinch of salt
1 tsp. dried mint leaves, crushed, or 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint leaves

Scoop the flesh from the rind of the honeydew, and purée it in a food processor or blender until smooth. Mix with the lime or lemon juice, salt and mint.

Chill before serving.

Makes 4 servings.


Mango-Blueberry Soup


This is a brilliant first course for a meal of grilled seafood or poultry — or a spectacular dessert served with cookies or cake. Frozen mango purée is increasingly available, but if your market doesn't have it, substitute frozen mango pieces or fresh mango puréed in a food processor. If you use fresh, chill the soup before serving.

1/2 cup kosher white wine
1 Tbsp. honey
1 package (10 ounces) frozen mango purée, cut into pieces
1 cup orange juice
pinch of salt
1/2 pint blueberries

Heat the wine in a saucepan, or microwave it, until it is boiling.

Add the honey, and stir until the honey dissolves. Remove from heat.

Add the mango purée, and stir until the purée melts but is still cold.

Stir in the orange juice and salt, and taste for sweetness and temperature. Add more honey, if needed. Chill, if needed.

Stir in the blueberries just before serving.

Makes 4 servings.


Cardamom-Apricot Soup

(Pareve or Dairy)

There are two styles of fruit soup. Summer fruit soups tend to be uncooked or barely cooked purées. Cold-weather varieties are cooked and often contain dried fruit. This is an example of the latter. It is slightly tart and very rich, made from a combination of apricots, golden raisins, candied ginger and a bit of ground cardamom. If cardamom is unfamiliar to you, I encourage you to try it. Similar to ginger, but a bit more floral, it's an exotic spice that's very easy to love.

1 bottle (24 ounces) apricot nectar
3 cups water
2 large (11 grams) vegetable bouillon cubes
8 dried apricots, cut in 1/4-inch pieces
1/3 cup golden raisins
3 slices crystallized ginger, minced (about 2 Tbsps.)
3 Tbsps. honey
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 cup sour cream, optional

Combine the apricot nectar and water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add the vegetable bouillon, apricots, raisins, ginger, honey and cardamom. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve hot or chilled, and top each serving with 1 tablespoon of sour cream, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.


Strawberry- Buttermilk Soup


The tang of fresh buttermilk and the perfume of ripe strawberries inspires the innocent provocation for this recipe. It requires no cooking, making it a saving grace when you can't stand the heat and you can't get out of the kitchen. Adjust the amount of sugar according to the sweetness of the berries and your taste.

2 pints ripe strawberries, hulled and cleaned
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup kosher white wine
1 cup low fat buttermilk
pinch of salt
4 sliced strawberries, for garnish

Finely chop the strawberries and sugar in a food processor.

Add the wine, buttermilk and salt. Blend just until smooth; transfer to a serving bowl, cover and chill.

Serve in chilled bowls, each garnished with a sliced strawberry.

Makes 4 servings.


Raspberry- Grand Marnier Soup


Raspberries and orange liqueur make a star-crossed culinary couple. In this simple, elegant soup, they find their destiny.

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 lb. frozen unsweetened raspberries
1/4 cup Grand Marnier, or other orange liqueur
pinch of salt
1 pint fresh raspberries

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat until boiling. Combine the frozen raspberries, liqueur and hot sugar mixture in a blender.

Cover tightly; place a folded towel on top of the lid and hold down firmly. Blend until the mixture is puréed. Pour into a serving bowl; cover and chill.

Before serving, stir in raspberries; serve in chilled bowls.

Makes 4 servings.


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