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Bastille Day: Cool Off with French Food at Home

Summer Tomato Soup

Laura Calder's gazpacho, French-style

Just back from a wonderful summer vacation in France, I’m ready to ring in Bastille Day stateside with some recipes from French Food at Home.

Eating my way through Lyon and Provence, I learned that the Spanish are not alone in their love for cool, refreshing tomato-based soups. Gazpacho was on menus all over the place, sometimes going by its Spanish name, sometimes just soupe froide. I also enjoyed cold pea soup and cold beet soup, both brightly colored and full of flavor. These light summery dishes balanced out a week full of rich Lyonnaise quenelles and buttery escargot.

Laura Calder’s Summer Tomato Soup with Basil and Croutons sounds like an excellent way to re-live my trip and counter this balmy weather I returned home to. Using basil and thyme instead of cilantro and red wine vinegar in place of sherry makes this pureed soup a little more français. If you’ve got ten minutes and a blender—even better, an immersion blender—this dish is a cinch.

Fennel and Mushroom Salad

Fresh and herby Fennel and Mushroom Salad

To round out a perfect no-cook picnic, try Laura’s super-simple Fennel and Mushroom Salad, flecked with fresh herbs and topped with curls of parmesan. Toast to the storming of Bastille with a frosty pitcher of what she calls Better Than Citron Pressé—an elegant mint-spiked lemonade.

Traditionalists might insist on classic recipes such as  crêpes or cheese-topped soupe à l’onion, but if your temperatures are pushing 90, this less-traditional French fare might be much more appealing. Vive la France!

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