During the summer, for whatever reason, the soup craving always strikes. Maybe it’s because we’re longing for cooler days, or just miss the comfort provided by a warm bowl of tomato-basil. It’s probably already too hot to strike up the stove for an all-day simmer, but that doesn’t have to mean that you have to forgo your soup craving altogether. Even though they seem a little strange at first, chilled soups are refreshing and delicious.
You’ve probably had chilled soups before at restaurants, often served in little shot glasses as delicious garnishes, but it’s easy to make your own at home with just a little effort. A high-speed blender (like Blend-Tec or VitaMix) will help you achieve a velvety, creamy texture, but many of these soups can be whipped up in a regular old blender or food processor to equally good results. When you’ve got the craving for a little liquid nourishment (not of the alcoholic variety, of course), try these five chilled summer soups.
The thought of having potato soup served cold is a little strange, but this dubiously French in origin soup is comforting and rich. Made with potatoes, leeks, cream, and stock, the recipe is most often credited to a French chef working in New York City’s Ritz-Carlton in the 1950s. The soup’s ingredients are simmered on the stove, pureed, and then chilled in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve. Anthony Bourdain’s recipe for vichyssoise from his time at Les Halles is a crowd-pleaser, and will add a little dose of fancy to otherwise simple summer dinners.
Gazpacho is the classic chilled soup, generally made with tomatoes and a ton of influence from Andalusian Spain. The traditional gazpacho is made with raw tomato, garlic, and onions, but more modern adaptations use a variety of fruits and vegetables to make this classic soup a little more interesting. Watermelon gazpacho is a particular favorite, as are cucumber and avocado versions. Pretty much any juicy fruits and vegetables can be utilized in a gazpacho, making this dish easily adaptable to whatever you’ve got floating around in the refrigerator.
This vibrant Ukranian soup, which can be served warm or cold, is one of the best ways to showcase the sweet earthiness of fresh beets. Generally considered a winter vegetable, summer beets are available at farmers markets and grocery stores across the country even during the warmer months. When blended with cream, stock, vinegar, and other fresh summer veggies, borscht is aesthetically appealing and completely delicious. Sauerkraut or red cabbage can add crunch and flavor, along with deepening that gorgeous magenta color from the beets.
There is no soup that is trendier than ramen, but if you’re really trying to be edgy, you should try this Japanese classic served ice-cold. At Ivan Ramen in New York City, Chef Ivan Orkin has experimented with lemon and tomato-based broths for his hiyashi ramen dishes, served with shredded protein like pork or ham, and topped with a soft-boiled egg. The resulting dish is an interesting contest in texture and flavor, and won’t leave you sweaty on your walk home.
This Bulgarian soup is made principally with cucumbers and yogurt, so it may remind you a little of Greek tzatziki. Tarator is also referred to as a “liquid salad,” which is a super-cool description, but it is little more than cucumbers, garlic, and dill blended with yogurt and other spices. You can tweak a recipe’s basic proportions and add in other aromatics, like chive or parsley, to suit your tastes. Tarator is best when chilled for a few hours before serving—the flavors need plenty of time to mingle and enhance each other.
Amy McCarthy is Paste’s Assistant Food Editor. She really, really likes soup. Find her on Twitter @aemccarthy.