It’s summertime and cooking should be easy. It’s mid May, and if you’re not in Arizona you probably think it’s spring. But I’m in Phoenix and it will be 104 today – so it’s summer. I’m not defining the seasons based on how I feel about the weather, I’m basing them on how the weather makes me feel. When my steering wheel burns my hands if I park in the sun it’s summer.
There are people who want hot food at every meal. They want a hot lunch and might even whine a little if they don’t get one. I’d rather have a wonderfully executed sandwich than a heaping pile of warm cafeteria steam-table feed. I do, however, like a nice bowl of soup if it’s not too heavy, and if it doesn’t make me stand in front of a hot stove for more than 15 minutes.
Hummus was the inspiration for my summer soup aha moment. It was lunchtime, and I was going to make a meal for two people. I had a little less than a cup of hummus in the refrigerator. Without bread or crackers it wasn’t enough to make a meal. I looked into the refrigerator five or six times and was underwhelmed by my options. Baby squash, endive, a few mini bell peppers, some basil, a handful of cherry tomatoes, and a half a portion of rice noodles.
Could I make vegetable soup without stock (and without the time or inclination to make stock)? What If I used the hummus? It just might work. I sautéed the peppers, then added the baby squash to the pan just long enough to get a few brown bits.
I cut the endive into ribbons and put them in the bottom of each soup bowl. I topped them with the rice noodles and the just-cooked squash and peppers.
Then I deglazed the pan with a couple of tablespoons of sherry. After most of the sherry evaporated I added the halved cherry tomatoes and the basil. After a few minutes, when the tomatoes were soft, I added 3 cups of water and the hummus. I also added a little salt and pepper. I whisked the mixture to incorporate the hummus and let it come to a boil. After a couple of minutes I transferred the mixture to the bowls.
I let the hot liquid sit on top of the other ingredients for three to four minutes. This re-heated the squash and softened the noodles.
Then I stirred it up and ate my Quick Summer Vegetable Soup.
In about 15 minutes I made lunch for two with one pan, one knife, and one cutting board . This gave me time to eat at a leisurely pace. Since it was soup I had to sit down to eat. It wasn’t exactly Downton Abbey, but it was civilized in a dressed down sort of way.
Maybe that’s the point of a hot lunch. It requires a bit of a sit-down-and-eat. You have to slow down, use utensils, and attend to the (hopefully enjoyable) business of eating.