*Or, Do I Dare To Eat a Chilled Peach Soup?
Well, I’ve just completed my second day on my Total Health cleanse, also known as the Grain Drain.
(I must interject here just to say thank you to everyone for your great comments, suggestions and encouragement–I am truly blown away by all the positive wishes and love hearing from you all. And it makes a huge difference to know that the support is out there!)
After two days of eating this way, I’m feeling a tad self-reproaching. You see, so far, I’ve found the diet nowhere near as difficult as I’d anticipated. In fact, it’s been downright easy–one might go so far as to call it enjoyable, even. (I know–I was shocked, too!)
I mean, what could be wrong with a fresh and juicy Earth Bowl for breakfast? Or a classic Three-Bean Salad for lunch? In order to keep my blood sugar levels steady, I’ve been munching on nuts and seeds, baby carrots, prunes (or, as they’re now called, dried plums) and wee bits of Cocoa Nibbles. I feel lighter and my allergies seem to be diminishing. Whoo hoo!
And then, most unlike Eliot’s eponymous poltroon, I most certainly did dare to eat a peach. Several, actually, all blended into a smashing soup. That, followed by a serving of Red Pepper stuffed with Raw Asian Pâté, (recipe in a future post), and dinner was rather spectacular. So, let us go then, you and I, and I’ll fill you in on all the details of Chilled Peach Soup with Cashew Coconut Cream.
Last week, on one of those grey days when the fog rubs its back upon the window-panes, we received a true harbinger of summer: four plump, downy, rosy peaches in our organic produce box. I was so thrilled that I devoured one immediately before I realized there will be time, there will be time to eat more of them throughout the summer.
As it happened, I’ve been on a bit of a library kick lately. Maybe it’s the ever-increasing tower of unread magazines that waits patiently in the corner of my office; maybe it’s my newfound frugality; maybe it’s the fact that I had to go get this month’s book (About Alice by Calvin Trillin) for my book club; whatever the reason, I found myself at the local library and decided to drop by the cookbook section. And there, after reading a variety of recipes (the dishes measured out in coffee spoons), I happened upon The Artful Vegan by Eric Tucker et al.
Tucker is executive chef at the famed Millenium restaurant in San Francisco, one of the very first vegan restaurants to introduce elegant, exciting and innovative cuisine for vegans (and one of the places on my list of “must-visit”s). I did have the enormous pleasure of sitting in the audience while Tucker demonstrated several recipes a few years ago at the inaugural Vegetarian Awakening conference; it was a revelation to watch him tame a tomatillo, pipe aïoli, or wrangle a fennel bulb. Everything he made was visually stunning and entirely delectable. (And even after the sampling, the cups, the marmalade, the tea–it would have been worthwhile. Oh. . . perhaps it’s the perfume from his Five Spice Watercress that makes me so digress? ).
Many of Tucker’s recipes are multi-faceted, multi-tiered, multi-stage affairs that require three days of preparation and innumerable specialty utensils to accomplish; the true appeal of his cookbook is that it allows you to gaze in awe at the culinary gymnastics his creations represent. And yet, as luck would have it, about midway through the book was a recipe for a chilled peach soup with a rosewater cashew cream. And best of all–it was perfectly accessible to a home cook! I bit off the matter with a smile, thinking this soup would definitely be worthwhile.
Preparing the soup couldn’t be easier–if not for the cashew cream accompaniment, I would certainly designate this a Flash in the Pan recipe–and it is entirely transporting when you taste it.
I made quite a few changes to the original recipe, so I’ll print my own version here. The soup is intensely fruity, with a slight sour note balanced by the hint of sweetness in the cashew cream topping. It is entirely refreshing on a smoldering summer day. This soup fairly hums “summer.” And even though there’s nothing in it that The Girls must avoid, this soup was too good to share.
(“Yes, Mum, I did hear the peach soup singing. But I do not think that it will sing to me. . . it did look good, though.”)
Okay, enough with the Prufrock. . . just don’t get me started on Nabokov’s peach reference!
Since this recipe hails from a truly “gourmet” cookbook and is also extremely low-cal (only 53 calories per serving, according to The Artful Vegan), I thought it would be the perfect submission to the Fat Chefs or Skinny Gourmets event, hosted by Ben of What’s Cooking and Ivy of Kopiaste’. They’ll be posting a roundup at the end of the month.
Chilled Peach Soup with Cashew Coconut Cream
With an irresistible deep coral color and light, refreshing flavor, this soup is the perfect first course to a cool summer meal. It would also be great as a breakfast soup.
Cashew Coconut Cream:
1/2 cup (125 ml.) raw cashews
1 tsp. (5 ml.) light miso
1/4 tsp. (1.5 ml.) ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. (1.5 ml.) pure coconut extract
1/2 cup (125 ml.) plain or vanilla soymilk
4 large ripe peaches, washed
juice of 1 large orange
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. (5 ml.) finely grated ginger
1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
Make the cream: In a blender (a food process or won’t work for this recipe), blend the cashews, miso, nutmeg, coconut extract and about half the soymilk until almost smooth. Scrape down sides. Add remaining soymilk and blend until perfectly smooth and velvety. Pour into a container and refrigerate until needed. If cream thickens too much after being refrigerated, thin out with a bit more soymilk or water.
Make the soup: remove pits from peaches and coarsely chop the flesh (Tucker suggested blanching them and then removing the skins, but I preferred them skin-on, both for the added color and fiber). Place the peaches along with the remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate the mixture at least 3 hours, or until well chilled.
To serve, pour the soup into four bowls or mugs. Spoon about one tablespoon (15 ml.) of the cream over top, and garnish with mint leaves, if desired. (These days, everything we make is garnished with mint leaves). Makes 4 servings.