Friday, March 25, 2011

Two Chilled Soups Put a Fresh, Cool Spin on Easter Picnicking

With Easter on the pink of tonight’s horizon…what is it—about 3 more weeks to go…? our menus entertain the idea of deviled eggs, country hams, asparagus and perhaps a succulent lamb with mint jelly; all tasty traditions yes, but when I looked for inspiration for this year’s Easter feast, my muse turned out to be a picture of a Fabrege egg; I wanted to research them as something fun and unusual to talk about in my Nana blog for April, and as I read more and more about the royal Russian intrigue surrounding this world famous egg décor, it hit me that I have been inspired by Eastern Europe’s culinary leanings, simply by living so long in South Florida—in Sunny Isles and Hollywood, FL there is a hub of Russian culture, asserting itself in stores, newspapers, markets and restaurants; these flavors certainly enliven the vibrant foodie scene down here, making those of us in Broward and Miami Dade counties crave dumplings in place of the Cuban rice we so frequently enjoy. Check in at Nana’s Kitchen to get the scoop on dumplings made two different ways in my post entitled: “What’s in Your Basket?”

But where was I…ready to drown in the comforting cream of a great Russian meal?

I’ve been in Russian myself and appreciated the wonderful food there; it’s got a repertoire beyond Borsht that could stretch around the earth and back. Because the Easter holiday—or Paskha—is sacred to Russia, I was compelled to see if any of their delicacies this time of year were reminiscent of the recipes printed in my own cookbooks. Sure enough I turned up more than one. What really caught my eye was a refreshing cold soup, chalked full of in season spring veggies and a taste of the sea (crab) for garnish; the colors in my Chilled Three Green Soup with Crab Relish match the brilliance of its flavors. Pack it in a thermos, tuck it into your Easter basket and grab a lovely outdoor seat to catch the Easter Parade! Pictured with today’s post, is an Easter celebration that a Russian born reader of my entertaining blog supplied when I asked for her input on a perfect Spring dish.

I told her what my winter weary palate was craving, and that’s why—when she began to describe her grandmother’s Botvinia, it was music to my ears. Botvinia is a green vegetable soup with fish, and so close in ingredients to my chilled three green soup that I wonder if I was channeling her Babushka when I created my own version all those years ago and published it in At Home Entertaining. The three kinds of lettuce add variations on green hues that remind one of the height of springtime—and reminds me that I should also share my Chilled Vichyssoise—made especially for springtime slurping as it features a unique addition of in season cauliflower that cools you off as things heat up. You may not be allowed to wear white before May, but you can definitely drink it! You’ll love the taste of this potato rich soup that welcomes spices like ginger, parsnips and cumin—the perfect excuse, really, to go shopping for the ultimate soup thermos and other picnicking gear, talked about in a winter picnic piece I wrote last December.

These are the salad days of our 2011 folks—enjoy their freshness and turn down your oven ranges to savor a bowl of chilled perfection.

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