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Chill out with fresh peach soup

Recipe:  No dairy in this refreshing dessert or side dish

Peach soup in a white bowl on a blue background
Garnish the soup with peach slices, if desired. Serve the soup very cold. (Photos:
Kathy Morrison)

No way am I turning on the oven or the stovetop in weather this hot. Even using the toaster is pushing things.

But peaches, my favorite summer fruit, now are in full season. The fruit stands and farmers markets are full of perfectly ripe ones. How to use those lovely peaches to their best advantage?

Make soup. Cold. Icy, even. You can drink it like a smoothie, but it's more fun to enjoy it a bit at a time, dipping a spoon into the cold bowl and savoring the fresh peach flavor.

To give the soup some body I blended the peaches with coconut milk (the kind in a can) instead of yogurt or cream. A bit of ginger ale enhances the sweetness. (A light fruit juice -- apple or pineapple -- would work well, too.) A touch of lime juice and a little almond extract add notes of brightness without overwhelming the peach flavor.  Served in a chilled bowl, it absolutely defines summer. Take that, triple digits.

5 peaches, 1 lime and a can of coconut milk
Use the ripest peaches for this easy soup.

Chilled peach soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

4 or 5 absolutely ripe peaches

1 lime, halved (zest it ahead of time if you want to use the zest for garnish)

1 cup regular unsweetened coconut milk (about half a can)

1/4 cup or more ginger ale (it doesn't have to be flat)

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Ideas for garnish (optional):

Peach slices, sprinkle of powdered ginger, finely chopped almonds or a sprinkle of lime zest

Instructions:

Prepare to peel the peaches by heating about 5 or 6 cups of water in a large microwave-safe container such as a glass measuring cup. (Or use a pot on the stove, but see my comment on that above!) The water should be very hot but doesn't have to be boiling.

Prepare a second bowl with ice water.

Peaches in a bowl of water
A hot water bath, above, followed by an ice water dunking will
loosen the peach skins.


Cut an X in the bottom of each peach and put a few peaches at a time in the hot water. Let them sit for 40 seconds to a minute. Remove them with a slotted spoon and dunk them in the ice water for about 30 seconds, then remove to a cutting board. Repeat until all the peaches have been dunked and removed.

Slip or cut the skins off the peaches, then cut the peaches in half and pit them. Slice the peach halves into a 4-cup measuring cup. Squeeze one half of the lime over the peach slices when there's about 2 cups' worth in the measuring container, then continue cutting until you have 4 cups of slices. Reserve any extra peaches for garnish.

Place the 4 cups of peach slices and the 1 cup of coconut milk in a blender. Squeeze the other lime half over them, then put the lid on the blender and puree the mixture until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a large container (such as a bowl or pitcher) that you can use to chill the soup. Whisk in the 1/4 cup ginger ale and the almond extract. Add a little more ginger ale or coconut milk if the mixture seems too thick at this point.

Cover the container and refrigerate until well chilled, or at least 2 hours. This also lets the flavors meld.

Chill bowls that will be used to serve the soup. When ready to serve, sample the soup and adjust the flavors to taste. Pour or ladle the soup into the chilled bowls and garnish as desired.






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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Sept. 25

This week's warm break will revive summer crops such as peppers and tomatoes that may still be trying to produce fruit. Pumpkins and winter squash will add weight rapidly.

Be on the lookout for powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that may be enjoying this combination of warm air and moist soil.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Plant for fall now. The warm soil will get cool-season veggies and flowers off to a fast start.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with "eyes" about an inch below the soil surface.

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