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Admittedly, winter is the prime time for Soup Night: there’s the warmth of the bowl, the warmth of the red wine, the warmth of being inside, the warmth of the general coziness. But in summertime, Soup Nights come with white wine, fruit desserts, bare feet, and soups served cold. It’s just as fun.

As we learned when my dad came to town, the best way we know to honor a guest is to throw a Soup Night for him/her/them.

This time, Ryan’s parents were in town, which automatically signed us up for some of his Ma’s Gazpacho, a longtime favorite in his household.

My brother Rob was in NYC too. He doesn’t have enough kitchen years in him to have a recipe named after him yet — give him time, folks, I’ve no doubt there’ll be one soon — but I couldn’t escape all of those summer memories as a kid of shucking corn with him and my other brothers.

I ended up with a chilled corn recipe, taken from last month’s Gourmet, but doctored heavily. When I did the soup test run the weekend before, the soup was deemed to thin (would slosh easily, wouldn’t feel substantial) for a Soup Night contender. Yet, the more I looked at corn recipes, the less I could shake it’s chilled simplicity.

I decided to experiment. After consulting some food-savvies, I went with a combination of their suggestions: Added a roux, added a potato, added some cream.

Both soups were deemed delicious. Success!

I’ll post the recipes in a minute, but first, here’s a snapshot of the night in numbers:

Soupers: 46

First-time soupers: 26

Pounds of tomatoes gazpachoed: 8

Ears of corn shucked: 25

Featured out-of-town guests: 3

Super secret featured out-of-town guests: 1

Amazing desserts brought: At least six

Soup Nights looked forward to: All to come

Ma’s Gazpacho
Serves 4

1/4 t fresh ground pepper
1/2 small onion, sliced
1 small green pepper, seeded and sliced
3 tomatoes, quartered
1 large cucumber, peeled, sliced and seeded
1 clove garlic
1/2 t dried or fresh basil
1 t salt
2 T olive oil
3 T red wine vinegar
1/2 cup chilled chicken broth*

-Blend until almost smooth. Chill.

*for this Soup Night, we substituted vegetable broth for our lovely vegan friends.

Chilled Corn Soup
Serves 6

3 ears of corn, shucked
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 T butter
4 1/2 c water
Garnish: sour cream and chives. I also recommend: dill!

– Cut kernels from cobs with a sharp knife, then cut cobs into thirds.

– Cook onion and garlic in butter with 1/4 tsp salt in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add corn and cobs, water, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes.

– Discard cobs, then puree corn mixture in batches in a blender until very smooth. Force soup through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.

– Chill until cold, at least 1 hour.

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First, I will start apologizing for my recipe in metrics. I’m just a stupid European after all. I will try and give you more universal indications for the quantities, if I remember. But the most important thing to bear in mind is that I wrote these quantities for the needs of writing down this recipe, but I myself never measure anything, so don’t worry too much about getting a quantity slightly wrong. It won’t ruin anything.

Start buying about 1.5kg of potatoes (like 10 medium sized ones), one small pumpkin (diameter 10 to 15cm. Somewhere half way between the size of your head and the size of your fist. Depending on how intelligent you are and whether you are a male or a female cook. To diffuse any future complaints, I remind all you people that these two criteria aren’t correlated). You will also need to get your hands on salt, olive oil, pepper, honey, coconut milk, crème fraîche and chives. Officially, only the chives are optional, but really, use this recipe in any way you like, and if it turns out good, let me taste next time we meet!

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I cooked all night Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve. I cooked all day Thursday, the National Holiday of Food. Still, I was so excited to try this soup that the first thing I did on Friday was go straight to the kitchen.

I’ve been waiting for this soup since this exact day — the Friday after Thanksgiving — last year. When it showed up that day in my Inbox from the lovely folks at Daily Candy, I ran to the fridge but my heart sank: There wasn’t nearly enough turkey or mashed potatoes to make it.

This year, I just might have made more potatoes than I thought the crowd could eat, hoping for leftovers. And I made sure that I had more than enough cream and cheese, because while I’m happy to cook the day after Thanksgiving, I wouldn’t be caught dead going to the market.

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My friend Kurt makes an incredible Jamaican Pumpkin Soup. I knew this even before I tried it, because:

1 – He scheduled – and rescheduled! – a dinner party around it.
2 – He can make it because he has a particular piece of kitchen equipment (a pressure cooker).
3 – He doesn’t have a recipe written down for it. It lives in his head and memories of his mom making when he was a kid.

So you could say I went to Kurt’s house with some…expectations. And you could say those expectations were…exceeded.

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