Five Cold Summer Soups to Warm Your Heart
Wednesday, September 03, 2014
Here are are top five recipes for cold soup.
On these too-hot summer days in Portland, all I want for dinner is a slice of watermelon and an ice-cold lager. But alas, even in lazy July dinner must still get on the table. What to do? Let the heat make you a little crazy and throw anything edible into the blender to make luscious cold soups.
Italians swear by summer soups. The simple secret is to serve summer soups at room temperature instead of steaming hot. Yet why stop at room temperature when an overnight chilling will meld the soup’s flavors and wait patiently in the fridge for your hot and sticky return at the end of the day?
Here are our top five cold soup recipes, all delicious and extremely flexible for using up whatever you have left over from your CSA box. Round out this meal-in-a-bowl with a small plate of homemade kimchi, fresh melon slices, and a loaf of crusty bread for a refreshing lunch or dinner.
Or look to NW Davis Street's Prasad, an Indian-influenced vegan restaurant with cold soups served all year round (prasadcuisine.com, 925 NW Davis Street).
1. Curried Vegan Zucchini Soup
July is the month when neighbors start playing ding-dong ditch with bags of oversized summer squash on each other’s doorsteps. If you’ve already stocked up your freezer for winter, simply sauté zucchini with one chopped onion, some garlic, one cooked potato, and 2 tsp curry powder. Blend everything together and then strain out solids. Garnish with halved cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of toasted cumin seeds.
This recipe is a riff off of Elephants Delicatessen’s tomato orange soup, which is so good it’s almost enough motivation to make it through the drab of another Oregon winter. This gazpacho is also much lighter than the original. (Trust me, you don’t want to know how much cream and butter is in that innocent soup counter paper cup.) Gazpacho is a Spanish peasant dish from the hot and arid region of Andalusia. This cold soup comes together quickly, combining common ingredients into a dinner-party worthy dish.
In a blender, combine 1-2 pounds of the juiciest heirloom tomatoes you can find, a sweet bell pepper, two peeled and seeded cucumbers, half of a chopped onion, two minced cloves of garlic and a few slices of chopped up dried baguette bread and a splash of balsamic vinegar for tanginess. The finished texture can be as smooth or as chunky as you wish. Add salt, pepper, fresh thyme, or a pinch of cayenne pepper for some spice. Squeeze the juice of one fresh orange in and serve, garnished with fresh basil sprigs and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on top.
For a sweeter version, throw in some juicy watermelon chunks. Try using bright yellow heirloom tomatoes, yellow sweet pepper and sherry wine vinegar to create a ‘golden gazpacho.’ These bowls of summer sunshine will surely rejuvenate you and yours.
3. Creamy Cucumber Herb Soup
Cucumbers are great, but for me, this soup is all about showcasing homegrown summer herbs. This soup is a perfect foil to barbecued chicken wings, ribs, or spicy Thai food. Blend up to four medium peeled and seeded cucumbers, one cup plain Greek yogurt, and one minced handful of each of your favorite herbs. Save the basil for the tomatoes and go for baby dill, cilantro and Vietnamese mint. Salt and pepper to taste.
If you can find it, try goat yogurt for an even sharper tang, or replace the yogurt with a ripe avocado for a just as creamy vegan version. To get it as cold as possible, this soup is best chilled overnight with a few ice cubes thrown in. Stir once and serve.
One of the highlights of Oregon summers is U-Pick outings for fresh berries.
But what happens when someone, ahem, “accidentally” comes home with 20 pounds of raspberries? Served at the beginning or end of the meal, this soup will satisfy your sweet tooth and your bikini body dreams.
Have daughters in the house? They’ll squeal with delight at this princess-pink dessert.
This recipe can be dressed up with brandy, cognac or champagne. Combine one cup each of marionberries and raspberries with 1⁄2 cup sugar, 1⁄2 cup sour cream, two cups ice water, and 1⁄2 cup red or sparkling white wine. Blend the fruit, sugar, and sour cream until smooth. Stir in the wine, water, until liquid is the desired consistency. Taste and add more sugar if needed. Chill eight hours or overnight. For a seedless version, crush the berries through a sieve before blending. Feel free to add plums, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, nectarines, white peaches, cherries, etc. Garnish with fresh mint.
5. Thai Coconut Lime Elixir
This soup does require a little simmering, but the sweat is well worth it. Bring two cups vegetable or chicken stock to a boil. Stir in one pounded stalk of lemongrass, a handful of kaffir lime leaves with the center stems removed, a pounded hunk of galangal ginger, two crushed and peeled cloves of garlic. Let simmer for 10 minutes, until aromatic. Add two tbsp. fish sauce and two tbsp. sugar to taste. Turn off heat and stir in one can of coconut milk and the juice of one lime. Let cool and then chill overnight. Garnish with lime peel shavings and fresh cilantro. This cold soup is meant for sipping out of a shot glass, but you can add straw mushrooms, cooked shredded chicken, and crunchy Asian bean sprouts to make it a full meal.
An urban farmer and master gardener, Amélie Rousseau writes for fellow explorers and eaters of the plant kingdom. It's a jungle out there.