While soup is commonly considered a winter dish (think: cozy sweaters, crackling fire, snow falling), but there’s actually a whole world of chilled soups out there that can make for a lovely, light summer meal. And we’re not just talking about gazpacho (though we do love this Spanish classic!) The cold soup traditions vary tremendously depending on the region, from Russian okroshka to Grecian avgolemono to Bulgarian tarator. The TL: DR of it: chilled soups are perfect for summer, and you’re going to watch to make these recipes from around the world.
Southern Spain: Gazpacho
We had to start with the one everyone knows. Gazpacho is a staple of southern Spanish cuisine, and is traditionally made with raw blended tomatoes, vegetables (like cucumbers and peppers), and bread, and is served chilled as a refreshing, warm weather dish.
Make the most of your summer tomato bounty (they are so, so good) with Plated’s easy, customizable gazpacho recipe. Feeling like making the recipe a bit sweeter? Add some fresh watermelon, mint, and lime juice for a fruity twist.
Eastern Europe: Borscht
Many Eastern European countries claim borscht as their own. The version of this sour, vibrant chilled soup that you see on menus in Ukraine may vary slightly from the ones you might find in Poland, Russia, or Lithuania. But no matter which country’s guidelines you follow, most recipes share one common ingredient that gives the soup it’s distinctive, magenta color: beets.
While some borscht recipes call for meat or fish, we love this vegetarian version for its simplicity—perfect for when you need a light summer dinner that’s ready in a snap.
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1 cup coarsely shredded, peeled raw beets
1 cup coarsely shredded carrots
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 1/2 cups store-bought fresh beet juice
Prepared horseradish, sour cream and dill sprigs, for garnish
Prepare a large bowl of ice water, and set aside
In a medium saucepan, heat the canola oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, 3 minutes.
Add the beets and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, 3 minutes. Add the carrots, season with salt and pepper and cook until crisp-tender, 3 minutes.
Add the vinegar and cook until evaporated. Add the beet juice and immediately transfer to a bowl. Set the bowl in the large bowl of ice water to chill. Serve the borscht in small bowls, garnished with horseradish, sour cream and dill.
Source: Adapted from Food + Wine
While having a dish that combines yogurt, potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and fresh herbs might not immediately sound like your next go-to dinner, one spoonful of this tangy, smooth soup will have you wanting it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all summer long. If you can’t find kefir, swap in plain yogurt or buttermilk— you’ll get the same creamy tang that you’d find in the traditional Russian rendition made with fermented rye kvass.
This creamy soup relies on two main ingredients to create its bright flavor and silky texture: egg and lemon. While other ingredients vary between traditions (chicken vs. fish broth; orzo vs. rice; diced meat vs. diced vegetables), egg and lemon are the steadfast, indisputable ingredients in every preparation. Technically, avgolemono can be served hot or chilled, but we love it cold as a light summer dinner or appetizer.
Granada: Ajo Blanco
Also hailing from the Andalucia region of Spain is ajo blanco, a blended soup that’s often referred to as “white gazpacho,” due to its similar ingredient list and flavor profile. Ajo blanco differs from gazpacho and salmorejo, however, with its inclusion of dairy (often milk) and fruit (apples and green grapes), and its omission of tomatoes. While the soup is thought to have originated in Rome, the Andalusians have made it their own, and have come to view this chilled soup as one of their traditional cultural dishes.
1 green apple, peeled, cored, chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
3 cups crustless 1-inch cubes day-old white country bread
1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
½ cup whole blanched almonds
½ cup whole milk
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
3 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup sliced almonds
Combine apple, garlic, bread, grapes, blanched almonds, milk, and 2 cups water in a medium bowl; season with salt. Cover and chill for at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.
Transfer soup base to a blender and purée, adding water by tablespoonfuls if too thick, until smooth. With motor running, gradually add ¾ cup oil and 3 Tbsp. vinegar and blend until soup is emulsified. Season with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, if desired. Strain soup through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; cover and chill until very cold, about 2 hours.
Source: Bon Appetit
While French cuisine often gets the reputation for having highly technical, complicated and hands-on recipes, this soup proves the exception to the rule. This thick potato and leek based soup comes together in less than thirty minutes and is as simple as 1 (sautée), 2 (boil), 3 (purée). Et voila! You have a delicious, creamy, filling chilled soup in less time than it takes to figure out how to say the soup’s name (VISH-eees-WAHZ, if you were wondering).
Think of salmorejo as gazpacho’s silkier, thicker, blended cousin. This creamy soup originates from the Andalucia region of Southern Spain and is made from a base of tomatoes, bread, garlic, and oil. While some preparations call for diced ham, eggs, or tuna as a garnish, we love it all the same in its simple, unadorned form—especially as a quick summer lunch option.y as a quick summer lunch option.
Think of tarator as a kind of tzatziki dip in soup form—made with a base of yogurt, cucumber, dill, walnuts, garlic, and olive oil, this light, bright soup could moonlight as a dip for carrots and pita if it wanted to. In Bulgaria, tarator is often served as a pre-meal meze, but we love this soup as the main event, too—just serve with plenty of pita, and extra walnuts, for garnish.
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