You probably think of a nice hot, steamy bowl of soup or stew as a hearty warming meal in the dead of winter, but did you know that in the summer a bowl of cold soup in the summer time can be just as refreshing as that hot soup is comforting in the winter?
Cold or chilled soups are popular in the summer for a couple reasons. First, soups are overall healthy dishes but who wants to eat hot soup in the middle of summer? Most people don’t. Second, many cold soups are made from few ingredients and tend to highlight summer flavors. Gazpacho, a Spanish cold soup made of tomatoes wouldn’t be nearly as good made with a bland and mealy tomato that was grown under a lamp and traveled many miles, and many refreshing ingredients, such as watermelon, tomatoes and cucumbers really lend themselves to chilled soup. Some soups, such as the traditional Russian soup borscht is cooked and then served both hot and cold (you wouldn’t believe the difference in tastes between the hot and cold varieties of the same exact soup), but many fruits and vegetables are simple pureed with flavoring ingredients while they are raw and chilled before serving.
You can make cold soup in the summer time out of any summertime produce; common soups include tomato, watermelon, cucumbers, and corn, but you can make chilled soup out of even colder veggies such as potatoes, such as in vichyssoise, a potato and leek soup that is usually served chilled. Many chilled soups are even made of fruit such as cherries, melons and pineapples. They are sweet and savory and many fruit can be paired with savory ingredients such as onions, peppers, garlic and herbs for delicious flavor combinations you’ve never tried before.
You can eat cold soups just as you would hot soups, as a starter to a main course or even just a light summer meal. Most chilled soups are meatless, although they could be chunky vegetable based soups depending on how smooth you puree them. They can be raw vegetable soups with few ingredients to cooked soups with ingredients such as cream or even cheese.
For the best chilled soups, use these tips:
Buy the best in season produce you can get your hands on. If you don’t grow your own, try a local farmers market for the best quality fruits and veggies you can find.
Remember, the goal is chilled soup, not room temperature soup, so even though it might be tempting to just eat the soup as soon as it’s pureed, take the time to chill it, your taste buds will thank you.
Don’t chill too long however. The longer you chill, the more the flavors will be pronounced, so if it has spicy ingredients, it will only get spicier. A few hours is best.
Cold will mute flavor, so season just a tad more than you would a hot soup.
Add any garnishes you like that work with the soup: herbs, sour cream, croutons, nuts and seeds. Be creative!
If you’ve never tried cold soups, there’s no time like now when the weather is hot and the produce is fabulous. What are you waiting for?