Hot Afternoon, Cold Soup

Hooray for Ilana for picking up her second week of blogging.  I was away for Shabbat and had to miss the cold soup extravaganza, so I’m very happy to have it documented here. 

During the summer—and in particular when it is really hot, like it was this weekend—I try to make sure Shabbat is especially relaxed, with not too many places I need to be or too much cooking on Friday afternoon. On the other hand, Shabbat also ends really late this time of year, so I want to make sure to take advantage of that. In light of that, this week, I decided to skip Shabbat lunch and host seudat shlishit (the third meal, basically dinner on Saturday) instead.

For me, Shabbat started with a really lovely and casual dinner at Alex and Jonathan’s. There was, of course, lots of good home-cooked food, but the highlight of the meal were the chickpea patties. Now, I’m not always a fan of chickpeas, but these patties, which made with chickpeas and other veggies and apparently held together with hope (according to Alex), were outstanding. They were substantial and filling, but still not too heavy for a hot summer night. It was also nice to sit around and talk about some of my favorite topics: celebrity gossip and our favorite (and least favorite) new TV shows.

Shabbat morning marked my first-ever Minyan Tikvah not as a member of the Organizing Committee, and it was really fun for me to just sit back and enjoy. After services, I chose to skip the Tikvah home hospitality lunches (though they’re always really great) so I could have a little downtime and also so I could visit with some old friends and meet my friend Rachel’s new baby. Adorbs.

Still, by the time I got home at around 3, I needed to start setting up for the next meal. Honestly, there’s not much that I enjoy more than slowly and quietly prepping vegetables and setting the table on Shabbat afternoon. It’s really an amazing contrast to Friday afternoon, which is always rushed and loud—from the country music I have blaring in the background. I love the Friday prep, too, but Shabbat afternoon prep is really special.

Since I wasn’t feeling excited about using my oven at all on Friday, I decided to do a no-cook meal—a cold soup bar. I made three kinds of soup that could be combined with each other or any of the fruits and veggies I put out. And, other than the fact that I made enough for at least twice as many people as showed up, it was a huge success. I’ll definitely try it again.

Of course, as everyone’s go-to cold soup, and one of my favorite dishes, the first soup I made was gazpacho. I put basil in it this time, which I’ve never done before, and I was really happy with the results. Next, I made a watermelon-mint soup with cucumbers and jalapeños. That was also good, but I think if I make it again, I’ll skip the mint. I really liked that it was sweet and spicy, but I thought the mint was a little overwhelming. Finally, I made an avocado and yogurt soup, which also featured a little lime juice. It was a great combination of tart and hearty.

The only thing I did cook on Friday was Swiss chard chips. They started as kale chips, but when I found the fridge kale-free, I learned that any leafy green + olive oil + kosher salt = tasty. Of course, the real hit of the afternoon was the limonana (mint lemonade), which I have since decided will be kept in my fridge all summer long.

Swiss Chard Chips

Cut up chard into medium-sized pieces. Sprinkle with olive oil and kosher salt. Put in the oven at 450 for 7-10 minutes. Eat immediately (while they’re still crunchy).

Limonana

Make any kind of lemonade. Add mint. Let steep for at least 15 minutes.

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