I recently suffered a serious case of chef’s block. It was poker night, and I hadn’t the slightest clue what I was going to make. Even though I flipped through cookbooks in my spare time on the train, inspiration alluded me. This happens in miniature to people all the time: every night you come home from work and are too tired, stressed, or overwhelmed to even imagine putting together a delicious, healthy, homemade meal, you are suffering from stress or fatigue induced chef’s block.
Menu planning is really an art. It requires creativity, openness, brainstorming, and the mental freedom to let your mind wander and see where inspiration strikes. I was too stressed about getting everything done before my vacation to creatively plan a menu, but it was so hot that I couldn’t imaging spending a half hour in front of the stove to cook up any of my stand-by dished.
I was at an impasse. I needed something fast so I could stay at work late, something no-cook that didn’t require the stove, and something easy so there was little chance of messing up a new recipe. My goals: fast, easy, no-cook, (and of course healthy and delicious, but that goes without saying). Sounds like every busy person’s dream set of recipes, right? Well, it was much harder to find than I expected.
I had an inkling that chilled summer soups might be the way to go. You just throw everything in the blender just like a smoothie, right? What could be faster or easier! However, it seems like a large number of soups still required that the ingredients were cooked beforehand, chilled, blended, and then re-chilled. Far more of a day long process than the five minute endeavor I was hoping for. Eventually, my research yielded three quick, tasty treats.
Start with the watermelon soup, as it the quickest to get going in the blended. Then prep the garlic, bread, and tomatoes for the gazpacho, and blend the gazpacho ingredients once the watermelon soup is ready. While the gazpacho is in the blender, peel and chop the cucumbers. Once the gazpacho is finished, blend the cucumber yogurt soup ingredients. Chill everything and serve when you are ready to eat!
I have served this soups in very different ways. A lack of ladles is a persistent problem, as not many people keep three serving ladles in the house. At my house, for a group of seven, we used two bowls per person (the cucumber and gazpacho work quite nicely together) and served the soups in old school French milk bottles. At a friend’s house house-warming, we served the soup in the blender top itself and had the soup out of bowl shaped Tupperware containers!
Anything is possible, but the most important thing is the have enough bowls that guests needn’t mix the sweet and savory soups and an easy way to pour or ladle the soup so your table doesn’t end up a mess.