Soup is an iconic winter dish, but if you love spooning, you needn’t limit your enjoyment of soup to the cold months. Just as hot soup warms cold bellies in winter, so do cool soups soothe hot and bothered bodies in summer. Here’s what you need to know when considering chilled soups:
Cooked Cold Soups
It sounds oxymoronic, but some of the best chilled soups must be heated up before they can cool you down. Beet borscht, a delicious Eastern European soup is made by seasoning boiled shredded beets and their red cooking water with vinegar or lemon and sugar. The sweet and sour soup is then chilled and served with healthy dollops of sour cream or yogurt. Add a boiled potato or a chopped hard-boiled egg and serve with a slice of buttered rye bread, and you’ve got a delightful summer meal. Borscht is also a great accompaniment to sandwiches, perogies, bagels, and homemade latkes.
Like borscht, Vichyssoise must be cooked and chilled before being devoured. Despite its Gallic moniker, Vichyssoise is an American invention (chef and creator Louis Diat named it after his hometown, Vichy). As creamy and rich as its French name suggests, Vichyssoise is blessedly simple to prepare. Simply puree softened leeks and boiled potatoes with creme fraiche, then chill, season to taste and top with finely diced chives. Vichyssoise is heavy enough to be hearty, but provides a delicate flavour and soft mouth feel that compliments many summer dishes. And while Vichyssoise is strictly a potato and leek dish, preparing asparagus and zuchinni in the same manner will also yield delicious cold summer soups. To make your soup worthy of an haute bistro, strain it through a fine mesh before serving.
So what if you don’t like the heat? Blender soups ensure you needn’t stay out of the kitchen! These soups don’t require cooking, and are quick and easy to prepare. Since so many blender soups are vegetable-laden, they can be quite healthy, too.
Although gazpacho pre-dates the blender, it’s probably the most common modern blender soup. A Spanish concoction of tomato, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, garlic and herbs, gazpacho is refreshing and nourishing. There are as many variations on gazpacho as there are ways to say “delicious”, so the best rule is to choose the ripest produce of the season, and let freshness be your guide. Experiment with different types of tomato (plum, Roma, heirloom), shades of bell pepper (red, yellow, orange) and varieties of herbs (cilantro, basil, garlic, parsley, savoury). Traditional gazpacho includes moistened crumbs of bread, and is often served alongside bowls of olives, hard-boiled egg and garlic croutons for garnish.
But gazpacho isn’t the only soup you can prepare in your blender. Simply rethinking your breakfast smoothie can result in a delicious lunch. Substitute plain yogurt for sweetened, soup stock for juice, vegetables for fruit and salt for sugar and voila: you’ve made cold soup. For a classic cold cucumber soup blend deseeded cucumber, dill, garlic, water or chicken bouillon, olive oil, salt and plain yogurt.
Cold wet noodles aren’t typically touted as sources of comfort, but Koreans suffer hot, humid summers, so they know what to serve when the heat comes, literally, raining down. Mul nang myun, or ‘cold water noodles’ are the perfect antidote to the rainy season’s heat. Chewy buckwheat noodles are served in vinegared daikon radish broth and garnished with cold beef, hardboiled egg, sliced cucumber, radish and Asian pear, and finished with slushy chunks of frozen broth.
Mul nang myun kits can be purchased at most Korean grocers, but any cold soup can benefit from the deep chill of a slushy garnish. The key to serving cold soup super chilled is to freeze the broth itself, as standard ice cubes dilute soup’s flavour as they melt.
If you weren’t raised in an Eastern European family, fruit soups might be a foreign concept, but we can assure you they’re delicious. Whether serving sour and savoury versions as appetizers or sweet versions for dessert, cold fruit soups are both cooling and nutritious.
Like gazpacho, which is often called a liquid salad, many cold fruit soups are simply liquefied versions of summer favourites. Mango salsa blended with chicken stock and garnished with sour cream and multi-coloured taco strips makes a delightful summer soup. If you’re a fan of watermelon and feta salad, consider reconstructing your recipe by blending watermelon, mint and lemon or lime juice, and serve with a sprinkling of feta cheese.
But if you’re a traditionalist, you can’t go wrong with Hungarian sour cherry soup, a smooth blend of cooked sour cherries, sugar and sour cream. Douse with sweet white wine before serving and let the liquor help fuel the debate: is it dessert or an appetizer?