The months when seasonal transitions become not just visible but impossible not to see are my favorite - the brisk air of March, golden sunlight of September, trees heavy with greens and very, very long evenings of May. The change of produce available in the supermarket - strawberries and asparagus arrive, followed by peaches and apricots from Spain. First appearance of those from Italy marks the first day of summer for me. Right now, it's still spring in full bloom. People lunch in the park near my university, I don't have to add any layers when I leave the house and getting up at 7AM becomes feasible, thanks to sunlight - but most of the pleasure flows from simply noticing the changes, the passing of time.
With all that in mind I am actually starting to be so much more excited (as opposed to petrified) about what's to come after the summer. That will likely be one of the most significant transitions of my life. That is the reason why I've been so quiet here on the blog. I now divide my time between studying, researching for my bachelor thesis, looking for internships and applying for them, which could be a full-time job in its own right. All while, of course, maintaining a level of doing-nothing that allows me to stay sane.
Maybe it's still too early for chilled soups, but we bought too many peaches one day and I wasn't going to throw them out just because they got too mushy before we could eat them. End of June, I am taking part in a students' conference/competition on how to manage food waste and in the process of preparing for it I've, once again, been reminded how much of an impact our negligence has on those embarrasing figures of waste. And this made me very happy.
The recipe is Maria Elia's, who is the hero of my spring/summer cooking and I still plan on cooking every-single-recipe from her cookbook, The Modern Vegetarian, which I can't recommend enough and do so at every occasion. There is a very brave use of ginger here, but it works really nice with the cold temperature and sweetness of peaches.
CHILLED TOMATO AND PEACH SOUP WITH GINGER
(Maria Elia's recipe, makes 2-3 servings)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
35g ginger, about 2 heaped tbsp finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1/2 red chili, seeded, chopped finely
500g vine tomatoes, about 6 medium
4 ripe peaches
pinch of white sugar
sea salt and pepper to taste
basil and olive oil, to serve
In a medium pot, heat up the oil, then add the shallot and ginger and fry for 15 minutes, until softened, almost mushy.
In the meantime, boil a full kettle of water. Pierce your tomatoes and peaches in several spots, place in a large bowl - probably best done in two batches - and pour the boiling water over them, let sit for a minute, drain and rinse with cold water. Peel the skins away, reserve one peach and one tomato for garnish. Chop the rest, keeping all the juices. I found that squeezing the peaches "off" the stone to be super successful, even if awfully messy (okay, that was fun, too). Transfer to a bowl.
Add garlic and chili to the pot, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped produce, sugar and salt, along with 300 ml water. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Prepare the garnish - simply cube finely the reserved tomato and peach, season with some salt and keep in the fridge until ready.
Puree the soup in a blender, then let cool before placing in the fridge for 4 hours at least.
To serve, top each bowlful with the garnish, some torn basil, and a healthy drizzle of olive oil.