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Find out what seasonal produce is available at a farmer's market near you.

Try one of John's delicious, cold soup recipes.

Make one of them for your next picnic.

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Cold Soups for Hot Weather
by John Ash

As the temperature goes up, the last thing most people feel like doing is a lot of cooking. Warm weather cries out for make-ahead dishes like cold soups. I've included several of my favorites below. They are great to begin a meal or picnic with and some can even be the meal! Being a wine guy, I've also added some wine recommendations. Why deny yourself a nice chilled glass of something special!

Cold Zucchini Soup with Cinnamon, Cumin and Buttermilk is a quick and simple soup. It's a wonderful base to which you can add all manner of things including cooked shrimp, sautéed mushrooms, spring peas, etc. I often will drizzle on a little fragrant nut oil as a garnish. Serve the soup chilled or at room temperature. We don't always think about room temperature soups but it's a nice variation on a warm day.
Recommended wine: The tart buttermilk, fresh herbs and spices would go best with a crisp, clean, chilled white wine with similar flavors, such as a Sauvignon Blanc. Italian whites like Pinot Grigio and Spanish whites such as Albarino would also work well.

Unfortunately, regular hothouse tomatoes don't work in my Chilled Fresh Tomato Soup With Summer Relish. Wait until tomatoes are in season and select the most flavorful, vine-ripened ones you can find. This is a great excuse to visit your local farmer's market. For variety I sometimes will separately add up to a cup or so of freshly juiced cucumber, sweet red bell pepper or carrot to the soup mixture.
Recommended wine: Fume/Sauvignon Blanc really expresses the flavors and aromas of a summer vegetable garden. Mint and basil are a perfect match for the fresh, "green", herbal flavors of Sauvignon Blanc.

The combination of the cucumber and honeydew in Cold Cucumber and Honeydew Melon Soup with Crab is an intriguing flavor medley and also visually interesting. Being a West Coast boy, I think Dungeness crab is the best, but use whatever you like. I prefer to use English cucumbers, as they are the "burp free" variety. I recommend serving this soup in wide shallow bowls for the most dramatic effect!
Recommended wine: There is a bit of sweetness in this soup and you'd want to try to find a nice chilled white with a similar level. Look for a Chenin Blanc, Riesling or Gewürztraminer that has a bit of residual sugar in it.

Cold Tomato and Carrot Soup is a simple, tasty soup that is a great way to start a summer picnic. If good, ripe, fresh tomatoes are not available, by all means used canned, which have more flavor than the usual supermarket tomatoes.
Recommended Wine: A chilled dry Rosé or even a fruity, chilled Beaujolais would be an interesting contrast with this soup.

We're seeing a slew of varieties of melons in the market these days and you can use any you like in this Fresh Cantaloupe Soup recipe. I've also made this with other yellow or orange fleshed melons, such as Canary and Crane. For an interesting visual twist, cut the recipe in half and separately puree a green-fleshed melon, like honeydew and ladle into the bowl simultaneously with the cantaloupe soup, creating a "yin-yang" effect.
Recommended Wine: A slightly sweet, melony wine such as a Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Muscat or similar wine with ripe fruit flavors and a little sweetness would be great with this soup.

"Albondigas" are the traditional pork meatballs served in a spicy Mexican soup. I've taken liberty with the term to apply it to smoked salmon for this Yellow Gazpacho with Smoked Salmon "Albondigas"—somehow it sounds more interesting than "meatball". The soup can be made a day ahead of time which allows the flavors to develop and marry. The key here is to have really ripe tomatoes—another trip to the farmer's market if you don't grow them yourself.
Recommended Wine: I think this would be fun with a dry, sparkling wine or Champagne!

Summer fruits make great bases for soups. For this Strawberry-Ginger Soup I've combined strawberries and fresh ginger juice for a sweet-tart-spicy soup. Depending on what's in season, almost any berry or combination can be used. If you don't have a juicer you can make ginger juice by using a garlic press or pureeing fresh ginger in a blender and then straining it through a fine strainer or cheesecloth.
Recommended Wine: Try to find one that matches the sweetness level of the soup. Rieslings, Gewürztraminers, Chenin Blancs and Muscats can all work here.

This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Zucchini Soup with Cinnamon, Cumin and Buttermilk
Chilled Fresh Tomato Soup With Summer Relish
Cold Cucumber and Honeydew Melon Soup with Crab
Cold Tomato and Carrot Soup
Fresh Cantaloupe Soup
Yellow Gazpacho with Smoked Salmon "Albondigas"
Strawberry-Ginger Soup

About John Ash

John Ash is an internationally recognized culinary figure and one of California's most influential chefs. A columnist, cookbook author and a food and wine educator, Ash is also the Culinary Director for Fetzer Vineyards. He's an advocate of cuisine based on seasonal foods and has been a steadfast supporter of local organic farmers. John Ash's namesake restaurant reflects the "good life" of Sonoma's wine country—where wine and food are a celebration.


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