Cold soups dominate the globe in the summer months. You’ll find gazpacho in Spain, sour cherry soup in Hungary and mango soup in both India and Guyana. Each of these refreshing soups celebrates the country’s best produce as it reaches its peak, often at the hottest time of the year. The soups are rich in flavor, refreshing and – because they haven’t been cooked – choc full of nutrition.

If only I’d known about chilled mango soup when I was pregnant with my daughter, Ava. During my last trimester, over the course of four painfully hot days, I ate a case of 12 mangoes all by myself. While this might have been the result of a wild, off-the-wall pregnancy craving, I like to think all that vitamin A, known to support good vision, went straight to baby Ava. Wouldn’t it be fun to think her eyes were developing that very same week?

Even today I adore the golden, sweet mango more than almost any other fruit – as does Ava, now 2 years old. It should come as no surprise that we’re particularly fond of the light and creamy chilled coco mango soup eaten by the people of Guyana. This smooth puree of coconut, mango, yogurt and rum is a rich and tropical blend that reflects the Caribbean and Indian influences on this small South American country.

While many cold fruit soups risk tasting like a glorified smoothie, this recipe is delicate in a way that no smoothie can be and is suitable any time of the day, either as a main course in the morning or an elegant dessert soup after dinner. Part of the reason it is so delicate is the addition of electrolyte-rich coconut water, also known as coconut juice. Straight from the heart of the coconut, coconut water thins the soup to the perfect consistency. The glorious final touch is dripping coconut milk over the top; it’s modern and fun.

Chilled Coco-Mango Soup

Take a mini vacation to South America with this refreshing summertime soup from tropical Guyana. Sweet and full of vitamins, it is indulgent and good for you. Serve for breakfast, lunch or dinner, either as a light entree or dessert.

4 medium ripe mangoes (about 3 1/2 c. chopped)?
1 1/3 c. coconut water (1 can)?
1 c. yogurt?
1/2 c. coconut milk?
1/2 c. milk?
1 tbsp. dark rum (optional)?
Honey, if necessary
Coconut milk, and coconut chips or shredded coconut, for garnish

Stand mangoes up and cut on either side of the long pit. Scoop out flesh into the blender.

Add coconut water, yogurt, coconut milk, milk and rum. Puree until perfectly smooth.

Add honey if you think it needs sweetener and process again. Thin with more milk if desired. Refrigerate for at least two hours. This chills the soup and gives time for the air bubbles to surface and makes for a silkier finished product.

Dip spoon into coconut milk and drip it onto the surface of the soup. Finish it off with a few coconut chips or shredded coconut.

Crazy for Coconut

Grown throughout the tropics, people have used coconut for millennia, and almost every part of the coconut palm is put to good use. Most culinary uses for coconut derive from the seed (which is not actually a nut at all). Americans are familiar with the grated interior flesh of the seed, which is used in many candies and baked goods. Further afield, though, coconut is found in many parts of the diet.

Coconut water – Also known as coconut juice, this is the clear, nutty flavored liquid found inside immature coconut. It’s served as a refreshing drink throughout the tropics – coconut stands are a common site in many areas of Asia and Central America. Due to its high electrolyte and mineral content the drink has recently been popularized in the West as a natural sports drink.

Coconut milk – is a sweet, milky liquid made by processing the interior flesh of the mature coconut seed. It’s a common cooking base in many parts of the world.

Coconut cream – is a paste made in a similar manner to coconut milk. Variants include creamed coconut, a solid block of processed coconut flesh, and cream of coconut, the sweetened coconut cream used in piña coladas.

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