What’s the first thing you think of eating on a hot summer day at the beach — hamburgers, hot dogs, salads? How about soup? Yes, piping hot soup!
If you were following this blog last year, you may have noticed that I made a number of soups while at the cottage, such as Carrot Lentil Soup and Summer Soup with Cauliflower, Split Peas and Corn. I also made an exotic Thai-Inspired Chilled Watermelon Soup, but my focus today is on hot soups.
I know, I know, you’re thinking it sounds crazy to make and eat soup on a hot day, but keep an open mind and you just might come to appreciate the advantages of holiday soup making. Here are six reasons to make soups at the cottage.
- Soup is easy to make and you don’t really need a recipe once you have the hang of it. The cottage is no place for complicated cooking! I make my soups in the morning before it gets too hot out, and also so the cottage can cool down while we’re at the beach.
- Soup is inexpensive, and a good way to keep costs down while on holiday. We eat out a fair bit while at the lake, and offset the cost of that with simple home cooking the rest of the time.
- A big batch goes a long way. The cottage we rent is equipped with a big stock pot, so I usually do big-batch cooking two or three times in our two-week stay. Soup keeps well in the fridge for a few days, and if there’s more I freeze it in portions for later in our stay. Soups are also ideal for make-ahead cooking because the flavour tends to improve with storage.
- It’s easy to take advantage of produce that’s in season and available at the local farm market. (Today’s soup, featuring garlic scapes, is a good example of that.)
- Even on a hot day, a hot meal is comforting and nourishing. It only takes a few minutes to heat soup up on the stovetop, so you can have a hot meal without heating up the cottage.
- And finally, unlike those burgers and sausages that are fun to get sometimes from the local wagon but can leave you feeling bogged down, soups can be very healthy and nutritious, especially if you include grains or legumes with the vegetables. They provide you lots of fuel for swimming, playing beach volleyball or some really serious reading in your lounge chair.
Now that I’ve perhaps sold you on the benefits of soup on the beach, here’s one I made recently. We go to the local Juicy Fruit Farm Market almost every day while we’re at the lake; one day last week I found a big basket of garlic scapes and knew right away that I’d use them in a soup.
The onions and mildly garlicky scapes provide the predominant flavours in this soup. Potatoes add more substance and tomatoes lend flavour and colour. I used the stock that resulted from cooking lentils earlier in the week to add more nutrition to the broth. While this was not the most attractive soup I’ve ever made, it was flavourful and satisfying. The Culinary Enthusiast raved about it; something about the flavour reminded him of his mother’s beef stew. So perhaps I could add nostalgia to the list as a reason to eat soup.
Whether sitting on your beach chair under the umbrella with the breeze blowing off the lake, or coming back to the cottage tired and a little chilled after wringing every minute of beach time out of the day, a bowl of hot soup really hits the spot. On its own, or with a salad and some rolls, it’s a great way to eat well on holiday.
Garlic Scapes, Onion & Tomato Soup
Soups are very versatile, so use this recipe as a guideline. I happened to have a rather sad-looking zucchini on its last legs in the fridge, so I peeled and chopped it and threw it into the pot. It’s certainly not necessary to the recipe so I didn’t include it, but a good example of making use of what’s on hand.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 large yellow cooking onions, quartered and sliced
- 10 garlic scapes, trimmed and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 large Yukon Gold potato, cut into six sections and sliced
- 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 6 cups lentil stock
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried thyme
Heat the oil over low heat, add the onions and stir well. Cook covered over low heat while you prepare the other vegetables, about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. You want the onions to soften but not take on any colour. Add the scapes, potato, tomatoes, pepper, salt and thyme. Stir well, then add the stock and stir again. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.