January 31, 2023

A la Carte: Two Cold Summer Soups

Geoffrey's Gazpacho (Food Network image)

Geoffrey’s Gazpacho (Food Network image)

A few weeks ago, at a boules party, I asked my friend Priscilla whether the Chester Market was still in operation. She looked surprised and said it is busy that ever. I guess I am used to Priscilla sending me a press release to remind me of my very favorite market.

The next Sunday I hopped into my car at 9:45 am so I could be one of the first customers, and I was glad to find a parking place in the public parking lot on Water Street. (Chester’s market takes up almost all the town’s main thoroughfare, but because people park, buy their produce and leave to stow their bounty at home, it isn’t too difficult to get a parking place if you are a little patient.)

In addition to seeing friends, I got to pet at least 10 dogs. I bought lots of tomatoes, some sweet corn, gorgeous beets, radishes, peppers, some baguettes and a beautiful boules from Linda Giuca from Alforno’s kiosk (this boules is an 8-inch round bread, unlike the boules I play with stainless steel balls). That evening I buttered a few hunks with sweet butter and topped them with fresh sliced radishes and special salt. That was dinner.


Borscht (Beet Soup)

Adapted from a non-recipe created by Pauline Aronson

Yield: 4 large bowls

Years later, my mother told me she used canned beets. As good as it was in my memory, I use raw beets. And remember, beets stain. I peel them in the sink and I am careful about putting the beets in the food processor on my butcher block counter.


3 to 5 raw beets (should total 2 to 3 pounds)

1 large onion

salt and pepper to taste

juice of 1 small lemon

Cup greens and “tail” from the beets and peel (I toss the greens). Cut the beets into quarters or halves and place in soup pot. Add a peeled and quartered onion to the pot. Add enough cold water to cover plus a bit more.

Put pot on stove and cook on high heat until boiling. Drop heat to medium-low and cook for another 30 minutes, or until each beet is soft. Allow water to cool slightly. In a food processor fitted with a grating tool (or use a simple grater), spoon beets and onions in the feeding tube.

Put beets and onions back into the broth and heat for another few minutes. (Broth should be very red.) Add salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze lemon juice into the soup, turn off heat and allow to cool. Pour soup into jar or container and refrigerate. Drink borscht cold with or without a dollop of sour cream, crème fraiche or a hot boiled potato.


Geoffrey’s [Zakarian] Vegetable Gazpacho

From Food Network Magazine, July/August, 2016

Yield: Serves 4

2 cups cored, seeded and diced ripe tomatoes (about 3 medium tomatoes)

1 cup seeded and sliced cucumber (about 1 large cucumber)

1 cup chopped yellow or red bell peppers

½ cup halved seedless green grapes

½ cup fresh parsley, plus more for topping

¼ cup diced red onion

1 small clove garlic, smashed

¼ cup red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for topping

½ cup vegetable stock, plus more as needed

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


Puree tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, grapes, parsley, red onion, garlic, vinegar and cumin in a blender until almost smooth. With blender running, pour in oil in a slow, steady stream until gazpacho is smooth.

Add ½ cup vegetable stock and blend again. If the gazpacho is too thick for you, add more stock until you achieve a consistency you like. Season with salt and pepper and chill in a pitcher or bowl, about 1 hour (or longer). Drizzle each serving with olive oil and top with parsley.

Nibbles: Over-the-Hill Celery

On a recent Sunday afternoon, when the temperature was a humid 100 degrees outside but at just 70 degrees and dry in my condo, I decided to make corn chowder and double the recipe. I grabbed the ingredient from my refrigerator and noted that the celery was limp and sad. Rather than go out to the market, where my hair and clothes would look the same way, I cut six of the celery stalks and put them in a tall glass of cold water. Two hours later, the celery looked like it had two weeks ago in the produce aisle. I used three stalks for the soup and other more for a tuna salad the next day. What a magic trick!