Recipes for Lettuce Soup with Radish Salsa; Chilled Watermelon-Basil Gazpacho; Almond Gazpacho with Grapes; and Chilled Minted Peach and Prosecco Soup

Share story

Hot soup is the quintessential comfort food, but there’s nothing more welcoming than a bowl of chilled soup during scorching summer days.

Cold soups combine a wealth of fresh, seasonal ingredients and flavors in a quick, no-fuss, simple meal.

“Soup is a four-season food that isn’t meant just for the cold days when you want to be cozy but also for the summer when you want something refreshing and easy and don’t want to turn on the stove,” says Julie Peacock, co-author of “The Soup Club Cookbook.” It’s a good genre of food — it’s an easy meal and way of combining lots of flavors in a bowl, she adds.

When we think of chilled soups the first thing that usually comes to mind is the renowned Spanish gazpacho — the uncooked tomato-based soup with raw cucumbers, peppers and onion. Despite the extra chopping involved, Peacock favors the concoction because the end result packs a bold, chunky bite of savory summer flavors.

Trendier variations have expanded the cold-soup menu in recent times. There are savory purees including the classic vichyssoise crafted by Chef Louis Diat at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York in the early 20th century. Sassy, textured raw vegetable creations are on the list, while cooked then chilled soups are always a convenient option. And then there are the semisweet fruit purees and raw fruit-based soups served as desserts.

Cold soups are supposed to excite your appetite, not satiate your hunger, and therefore are served primarily as starters or accompaniments. Occasionally they can be the main attraction of the meal. “They are also a nice finisher and palate cleanser and can act as a digestif at the end of a meal,” Peacock says.

You can make a plethora of things with chilled soups, yet, to a novice it can still be a surprising sensation when tasting a cold soup, especially given the texture and fresh, uncooked ingredients, says Mikhail Istomin, marketing director at the Uzbek restaurant Kavsar in Pittsburgh’s Mount Washington.

The rule of thumb for cold soups is fresh ingredients, he says. Fresh kefir (liquid) and yogurt also are important when making milk-based broths, he says. Peacock stresses the importance of seasonal and high-quality ingredients when whipping up chilled soups. Moreover, it’s key to use citrus to bring that next level of zing, and be liberal with fresh herbs for that extra brightness. Add plenty of seasoning and don’t forget to factor in the time to chill the soup and allow the flavors to mingle, she says.

When it comes to combinations, there’s a world of possibilities. Peacock opts to combine vegetables and herbs such as cucumber and yogurt, tomato, basil and parsley; avocado, arugula and cilantro; or melon and mint.

You can always turn your salad into soup with a mix of lettuces and herbs, thicken the puree with yogurt and top it with a colorful salsa. Combine sweet melons with vegetables and brighten the flavor with splashes of lime or lemon juice. Spike peaches with prosecco and cool mint or drown crimson berries in a pool of red wine.

For a vegan approach, try a blend of bread, almonds, garlic, vinegar, water and olive oil.

Amp up the taste of soups with a wide array of garnishes; top them with tangy vegetables, hard-cooked eggs, dollops of sour cream and seafood. Sprinkle purees with herbs such as mint, basil or dill, add a dash of citrus and toss in some toasted nuts. For a brave punch, finish the dish with a pinch of red pepper flakes.

You might want to avoid loads of animal fat or butter in cold soups as they tend to envelop your mouth in an unpleasant way.

Don’t be intimidated to make cold soups. “If you can make a margarita you can make a cold soup,” Peacock says.

 

LETTUCE SOUP WITH RADISH SALSA

Serves 4

This soup is literally a summer salad turned into soup. The intensely green soup comes together in a blender, which means there is no cooking involved. Feel free to adjust the amount of onions to your personal taste.

 

For soup

4 cups torn butterhead lettuce leaves

2 cups (about 2 ounces) stemmed baby spinach

1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs

1/3 cup coarsely chopped shallot

¾ cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 cups vegetable stock

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 

For salsa

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon dry mustard

Dash of salt and freshly ground pepper

¼ cup red radish matchsticks

¼ cup seeded-cucumber matchsticks

 

1. Puree all soup ingredients, except salt and pepper, in a blender until smooth. Season to taste.

2. Refrigerate in a covered container until chilled, at least three hours, before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning.

3. For salsa: Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir in radish and cucumber strips. Cover and refrigerate.

4. Serve soup in shallow bowls with a mound of salsa spooned atop each serving.

— Adapted from “A Beautiful Bowl of Soup: The Best Vegetarian Recipes” by Paulette Mitchell (Chronicle Books; 2004)

 

CHILLED WATERMELON-BASIL GAZPACHO

Makes 6 servings

I love watermelon so having the watery fruit be the star of this soup was right up my alley. Although it’s called a gazpacho, the tomato shines faintly in the background leaving center stage for the watermelon.

 

1 (5-pound) seedless watermelon, rind removed and flesh chopped (6 cups)

1 medium heirloom tomato, chopped

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 limes

¾ cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

¼ cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

1. In a blender or food processor, combine watermelon, tomato and olive oil. Zest one lime and squeeze juice; add zest and juice to the blender and puree until mixture is smooth. Pour soup into a large bowl and stir in the basil, mint, salt and pepper. Chill soup for at least three hours before serving.

2. To serve, pour soup into chilled bowls. Cut remaining lime into wedges and use to garnish the bowls.

— From “Happy Cooking: Make Every Meal Count … Without Stressing Out” by Giada De Laurentiis (Clarkson Potter; 2015)

 

ALMOND GAZPACHO WITH GRAPES

Makes 4 servings

Bread replaces the tomatoes found in a traditional gazpacho. I loved how the almonds in this soup gave it a creamy nuttiness.

 

3-inch white baguette, crust removed

½ cup slivered almonds, plus more for topping

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 garlic clove, peeled

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup ice water

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups seedless green grapes, halved

1 cup finely diced cucumbers

 

1. In a food processor, combine baguette, almonds, vinegar, garlic and salt. Process, adding ice water gradually to make a smooth puree.

2. With machine running, drizzle in oil. Transfer puree to a medium bowl or tureen, then stir in grapes and cucumber. Refrigerate for up to three days until serving. Before serving, top the soup with a few slivered almonds for an additional crunch.

— Adapted from “Big Vegan: More than 350 Recipes No Meat / No Dairy All Delicious” by Robin Asbell (Chronicle Books; 2011)

 

CHILLED MINTED PEACH AND PROSECCO SOUP

 

2 pounds fresh peaches, peeled and pitted

1 ½ cups dry prosecco

½ cup fresh mint, finely chopped

½ cup coconut milk

2 tablespoons agave syrup, plus extra if needed

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus extra if needed

4 sprigs mint

 

1. Chop peaches and put them in a 4-quart saucepan with prosecco. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until peaches are breaking down, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in mint and let cool.

2. In a blender or food processor, puree peaches with milk, agave syrup and lemon juice.

3. Refrigerate soup up to four days. Taste and adjust lemon juice or agave. Serve in bowls with mint sprigs.

— From “Big Vegan: More than 350 Recipes No Meat / No Dairy All Delicious” by Robin Asbell (Chronicle Books; 2011)