Tips & Tricks

Your Guide to (Cool) Summer Soups

Here’s a rundown of the cool summer soups that can simplify your dinners with extra tips about how to use these global classics as a starting point to make any chilled soup your own.

Soup and summer: they just don’t seem to go together. But take that stockpot off of the burner, and you’ll find that sipping your supper is one of the greatest ways to do dinner in the heat. Here’s a rundown of the cool summer soups that can simplify your dinners with extra tips about how to use these global classics as a starting point to make any chilled soup your own.

Gazpacho
Make it: The most famous summer soup comes to us from Spain. Make like the Spaniards and use only the ripest tomatoes in order to do justice to gazpacho. Blend the tomatoes with cucumbers, shallots, garlic, and a little day-old bread, then season with salt, vinegar, and plenty of olive oil. If you like a more textured soup, chop some of the vegetables instead of blending them all. That’s it!
Own it: There are infinite variations on gazpacho. You can change up the texture, as noted, as well as the ingredients. Try adding fresh herbs, Spanish-inflected spices, and whatever fruits and vegetables are in season. Peppers add a welcome brightness while corn and avocado are irresistible garnishes.

Vichyssoise
Make it: Since a cold potato-leek soup might not sound all that enticing, the American inventors of Vichyssoise decided the stuff had a French origin. This is likely mythical, but still, you shouldn’t underestimate the yum factor of this filling soup, which has the power to satisfy a small appetite on a hot summer night. Boil potatoes in one pot while you sauté leeks in another. Combine the two and boil with chicken stock until everything is tender, then blend together and chill in the fridge. When you serve, add 1 to 2 cups of sour cream or heavy cream.
Own it: The all-white soup cries out for something green. Garnish generously with chopped kale or a mix of French fines herbes like chives and parsley.

Salmorejo
Make it: Gazpacho’s cucumber-less cousin, Salmorejo is simple as can be. You make what’s basically a tomato-bread salad out of stale bread rehydrated with some water, tomatoes, a little onion, and a clove of garlic, then blend them up with a lot of olive oil (about 1 cup of oil to a full baguette and 8 small tomatoes). Season like gazpacho, with vinegar and salt.
Own it: Pick up some Spansih jamon, and serve slices on the side. Or, crisp the ham in a hot pan and use the pieces as garnish.

Borscht
Make it: This Eastern European staple is served warm in winter, but don’t miss the cold pink version on summer evenings. Boil cleaned beets in water until they’re soft, then peel and dice. Save some of the beet cooking water to mix together with equal parts chicken stock and sour cream. Add a few spoonfuls of sugar, lemon, yogurt and vinegar, then stir in the chopped beets and some minced scallions. Chill the whole mix for a few hours, then serve, garnished with dill.
Own it: Add extra vegetables to the borscht for a summer soup with all the nutrition of a salad. Crunchy cucumbers and radishes add texture that compliments the soft beets.

Avocado Soup
Make it: Mexican avocado soup can be served room temperature or cold; we’re obviously fans of the latter. To make, cook a large onion in oil until it’s very soft. Add a big handful of cilantro leaves, then blend together with 3 ripe avocados and 6 cups of chicken broth. Season with lime juice and salt. That’s it!
Own it: Avocado soup loves a creative garnish. Try any of your favorite Mexican condiments, from pickled jalapenos and crumbled queso fresco to crispy tortilla strips or crunchy marinated onions.

Fruit Soup
Make it: Melons, peaches, and strawberries can also anchor refreshing, not-too-sweet summer soups. To make a fruit soup, follow the general directions for gazpacho, blending together a few cups of very ripe fruit with some cucumber, shallots or onion, garlic, salt, and olive oil. Use water to thin the soup to your desired consistency, then garnish with cooling herbs like tarragon, basil, or mint. A few hours of chilling in the fridge will bring the sweet and savory flavors together.
Own it: Don’t get hung up on individual fruit soup recipes; instead, seek out whatever produce is in season. A ripe fruit should give off a scent that embodies its taste at its absolute best. That factor, more than any other ingredient or technique, will guarantee a great soup.

Pea Soup
Make it: Cook freshly shelled peas super quickly (about 2 to 5 minutes), so they don’t have a chance to turn a murky shade of green. At the same time, sauté onions in plenty of butter. Blend together with mint, salt, and a tiny bit of lemon. Thin with water, broth, milk, or cream and serve cold.
Own it: Mint isn’t the only herb that pairs beautifully with fresh-tasting peas. Try chives, tarragon, or thyme for a change, or garnish the soup with cut-up smoked ham. To give the soup more body, add some lightly sautéed zucchini to the mix.

Ajo Blanco
Make it: Sometimes called white gazpacho, this Spanish soup looks creamy but in fact contains no cream. Instead, you create it by blending together 6 slices of white bread and 2 cups of almonds with a few cups of water, a garlic clove, sherry vinegar, and a half cup of olive oil. Once blended, pass the soup through a fine mesh strainer to remove any big pieces of bread or almond. Garnish with fried almonds, and extra olive oil and vinegar.
Own it: Play around with the best quality olive oils and vinegars, as you’ll taste every ingredient in this ultra-simple soup. If you love garlic, try roasting a few cloves for a second layer of the stuff. Some recipes call for garnishing with halved green grapes.

Abdoogh Khiar
Make it: Beloved by Persians, this is one of many cool, thinned yogurts eaten as soup throughout the Middle East. To make it, combine thick yogurt with vegetables and herbs (start with some or all of these: cucumbers, carrots, radishes, mint, dill, and tarragon), then whisk in ice water until you reach a consistency you like. Garnish with toasted walnuts and raisins.
Own it: Yogurt and cucumbers are a truly tasty pairing. Even if you’ve got none of the other ingredients essential to abdoogh khair, you can still combine the two, blend or mix together, thin with water, and season with minced garlic and salt, and have a truly delicious cool-as-a-cucumber yogurt soup.

(Images: Mamiverse, Silk.com, 101Cookbooks.com)

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