Learning to Chill!

In Summer the soups are cold, and the salads filled with seasonal abundance.

In the winter issue of 3rd Act, I declared that in cold weather I want soup for both lunch and dinner. Turns out that is true in the summer too! Of course, the soups are cold, and the salads filled with seasonal abundance.

Here are some tips and recipes to get you started—and you will never have to turn on a burner!

  1. Stock up on easy-to-find ingredients that just need assembling and serving.
  2. Always have lemons on hand—they make everything better.
  3. Food processors and/or blenders make soups a snap.
  4. Check out the combinations offered in restaurants or salad bars to spark your creativity. Use the Internet to find recipes for ingredients that interest you.

The Multi-Element Salad

  • Greens: While we know that dark green ones pack the most vitamins, try some of the tender leaf varieties like butter lettuce or red and green lettuces. Frequent farmers markets to support local agriculture. And be aware that almost any green you might want is packaged and washed, ready to use, from many grocery stores. My favorites are arugula, mache (corn salad), baby spinach, mizuna, and baby mixed leaves. One bag of greens will serve two or three people at lunch and might leave you enough leftover salad for my famous Salad Soup.
  • Vegetables: Fresh tomatoes can star on their own in variations on Caprese salads, as well as going into mixed salads. Uncooked corn kernels, cut right from the cob, add a sweet spurt of flavor. Fresh grated beets add snap and color. Sliced edible pea pods and green peas taste terrific. The choices are many, so be creative.
  • Fruit: Berries, cherries, watermelon, plums, nectarines, peaches, and grapes are all good in salads. Dried fruits (ones that are softer as opposed to overly leathery) can also be used: cherries, apricots, cranberries, blueberries, dried mandarins, or lemons.
  • Cheese: Crumble or grate feta, blue, gorgonzola, goat cheese, cheddar, or other cheeses that catch your fancy.
  • Proteins and/or Grains: Chicken, turkey, shrimp, tuna, and salmon are all good. Try using cooked grains like wheat berries, farro, lentils, or barley. (Trader Joe’s has both faro and barley that cook in 10 minutes.)

Dressing it up

I always make my own dressing since it is easy and the results wonderful. I tend to the tangy rather than the oily, but I know my palate and adjust most recipes to meet my tastes. If you have favorites among the many excellent bottled dressings on the market, by all means, use them. But give the three dressings below a try—you might be a convert to homemade dressing!

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette — Excellent over hearty salad with lots of elements.


¼ C. good balsamic vinegar—try some of the easily found flavored ones

¼ C. wine vinegar

2 T. pomegranate molasses

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tsp. Dijon or other mustard

¾ C. virgin olive oil

salt and pepper


Crush garlic and mix with mustard. Add other ingredients and blend well.

Taste for the right blend of sour with touch of sweetness.


Minty Lemon Dressing — The mint takes the bite out of the garlic and the dressing gives a bright, fresh feel to the greens.


½ C. chopped fresh mint

3 cloves garlic, finely minced or crushed

Juice of 2 lemons

½ C. virgin olive oil

salt and pepper


Mix all ingredients and pour over tender greens (butter lettuce or other soft-leaved greens).


Buttermilk Dressing — Use with whatever salad you’ve assembled.


1 C. buttermilk

½ C. yogurt (you can also use good mayonnaise or sour cream)

Juice of 1 lemon

Small clove garlic – smashed but not crushed (you can take this out later)

½ C. of fresh herbs of your choice: tarragon, basil, dill, cilantro, chives, mint

Feel free to mix these. They all go well together.


Mix all ingredients. It will keep for three to four days.


Sipping Summer Soups

Starting your summer meals with cold soups is a delicious way to increase the vegetables or fruits on the menu. While many require either a food processor or good blender, some can be made from a mix of existing ingredients. As always, be willing to experiment and find the flavors and textures you like.

If you revisit the winter issue, you will discover that several of the soups I suggest can easily turn into chilled soups. The flavor groupings and herbal ideas also still apply.

Summer Salad Soup  Serves 3-4

I developed this soup many years ago when I had leftover salad and hated to waste it. I remembered that wilted greens are actually ingredients in some salads (think warm spinach salads) and decided I could use it as a base for a chilled soup. This is one of those recipes you need to keep tasting until the balance of flavors—tart, salty, sweet, spicy, herby—feels right for you.


1-2 C. leftover salad (all vegetables work best for this, although some fruit would be a nice element)

3-4 green onions, ½ small sweet onion, or 1 clove garlic if you like those flavors

1-2 C. buttermilk or half buttermilk and yogurt (or other liquids such as chicken or vegetable broths or tomato juice)

Optional: ½ or whole avocado –– it adds good texture and mild flavor. Hot sauce is also an option.

A handful of fresh herbs: mint, basil, dill, chives, sorrel

Lemon juice

Salt and pepper


Put all ingredients into processor or blender and process until the mixture has the consistency you want. This soup won’t get totally smooth the way cooked vegetables do, but it will be satisfyingly soupy! Chill for several hours.


Summer Tomato Soup  Serves 4


2 – 2 ½ lbs. mixed ripe organic tomatoes – yellow, red, orange, heirlooms, etc.

Fresh tarragon (approximately 1-2 tablespoons leaves)

Juice of 1 or 2 limes

Salt and pepper


Cut tomatoes into chunks, add everything to processor, and process until soupy. Chill and serve, or serve immediately.

You can also add the uncooked kernels from one ear of corn, cut off and added to the processor. Check the flavors to balance the tart and salt and the amount of tarragon you like.



Moroccan Cold Tomato-Orange Soup  Serves 3-4

A simple assembly job and a great way to begin a summer meal.


1 C. quality orange juice

1 C. quality tomato juice

1 C. buttermilk

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cumin


Mix ingredients together well, chill, and serve in cups. You can sprinkle a bit more cinnamon on top.

In the beginning, there was food! Before Rebecca Crichton worked for Boeing, taught leadership development, or became executive director of the Northwest Center for Creative Aging, she was a caterer, recipe developer, and food journalist. She has taught cooking to seniors and others, and she can reel off food ideas and recipes for any part of a meal or event. She believes in easily prepared, healthy, and taste-filled food that delights and satisfies.


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