Refreshing Cold Soup
Aaaand we’ve finally arrived at the dog days of summer here in the Northern hemisphere. The last thing we want to do is turn on any source of heat, so what do we do about dinner? The answer is a refreshing chilled soup, featuring peak summer produce!
Chilled soup is one of those things that you just don’t need a recipe for (even though tons exist—you may have heard of a certain “gazpacho.”) In my opinion, it’s much more fun to play around with whatever you have in the fridge or find at the market, testing out new ideas and flavors.
“But that sounds hard,” you say? It’s not at all! All you have to do is follow this general framework:
1-2 lbs of raw vegetables and herbs
I like to choose 2-3 types of fresh vegetables and 1 or more handfuls of fresh herbs. I like to combine veggies that have a similar color, so the resulting soup doesn’t end up a muddled brown. Good choices for veggies include:
- bell peppers
- zucchini or summer squash
- baby spinach
- jalapeño pepper (if you like a kick!)
And for the herbs:
- fresh basil
- fresh parsley
- fresh mint
- fresh dill
I also like to throw in some “alliums,” members of the onion family. These lend extra complexity and bite to the final product:
- red or white onion
Word of warning about alliums: don’t use too much! Just 1-2 cloves of garlic or a quarter of a medium onion should do. Because it’s all going in raw, you don’t want to overwhelm the palate.
1-2 tablespoons of something acidic
For the most part, this means lemon or lime juice or a light-colored vinegar. The acidity balances out the sweetness inherent in many summer vegetables.
1-2 cups of broth, tomato juice, or water
To give the soup that liquid consistency, we’ll need a… well, liquid! I tend to prefer broth because that adds a base layer of umami flavor. Any kind of broth will do, except for seafood broth. Tomato juice also adds that umami, but it’s a tad acidic so cut down on the lemon juice or vinegar. Water works too; the flavor will just be a little lighter. The amount you use depends on how thick your soup turns out. You can always add more to adjust the consistency.
Optional items to add body and richness
For me this means some form of dairy (such as heavy cream, sour cream, yogurt, or even cream cheese). A surprising addition is bread crusts—yes, use those up! They add a nice body and thickness to the soup.
Oil and salt
These add final touches of flavor. Without these, you may find yourself eating a vegetable smoothie.
If this all seems very overwhelming, don’t worry! I got you. For first-time cold soup makers, here is a ready-made combination of ingredients to try:
- 1 English cucumber (the long thin kind, usually wrapped in plastic)
- ¼ of a medium onion or ½ of a small onion
- 2 sprigs each of parsley and dill
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ½ cup cream or sour cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil to drizzle
Remember, a lot of cooking is about learning to taste and adjust based on personal preferences. Cold soups are an excellent way to practice doing that, because you can always add more things to the blender or the final mixture. This is, in other words, supremely tweak-able.
Let’s make some refreshing chilled soups!
blender or stick blender
some raw vegetables and herbs (see description for suggestions) 1-2 pounds
lemon juice or any kind of vinegar
broth, tomato juice, or water at least 1 cup
leftover bread crusts optional
heavy cream, sour cream, or plain yogurt optional
Lesson Gallery... Yum yum.
To submit your photo, send me an email!