We have everything we could want right at our fingertips, yet we have a dilemma – it’s just too hot to cook!
Sometimes, it’s too hot to eat as well! Enter chilled summer soups!
Right now, there is every imaginable summer vegetable and fruit waiting for us at the markets and farm stands: squash, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, scallions, peppers, turnips, carrots, lettuces, beets, radishes, greens beyond belief, and it all looks inviting.
Long hot summer days like this, I’m glad I have a plan, and my blender is at the center of my kitchen routine. In just a few moments, without turning on the stove, a big batch of fresh soup can be prepared and set to chilling in the refrigerator for dolling out over the next few days.
Five inviting chilled soups
These are my five favorite chilled summer soup: Cucumber soup, vegetable gazpacho, vichyssoise, chilled pea soup, and borscht. All are delightful when eaten frosty cold. By themselves, they make a great summer lunch or snack; they are filling, refreshing, and as you eat them you feel healthy with each spoonful!
I’ve served these chilled summer soups as samplers at the Inn as a starter course on hot summer days, and also at weddings as a wonderful passed chilled summer soup “shooter” appetizer. They are always a hit.
Five minutes in the kitchen
My personal favorites are Simple Spicy Gazpacho and Chilled Cucumber Dill Soup, both raw preparations made in moments in the blender. For minimal cooking, Fennel Vichyssoise, much lighter than the original version which is made with potatoes and cream, is always a hit, and can be served cold or hot.
The Chilled Pea Soup with Mint and Ginger is a refreshing favorite, and requires little stove time, although when English peas are in season, you will have to devote a little Zen time to shuck the peas (in some parts of the country one ‘shells’ peas). Of course, if you blink and the peas disappear from the farm stand, frozen stands in nicely and absolutely no cooking!
Even if you don’t like beets, you’ll like this one…
Although I am not a fan of beets, I relent and make a small batch of Borscht for my husband. It is one of the most beautiful foods possible, and because it is so pretty, I always give it a try.
Nope, still don’t like beets, but I like this soup, and if you like beets, you will love this one. You can use any type of beet you like from candy stripe or golden to the deep red varieties.
Smooth or chunky, it’s your choice
These soups can all be processed into a smooth puree, or left with a few chunks, make it however you like. They are all gluten-free, nut-free, and can easily be made dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan as well. That means just about everyone can eat them!
Because I need to spend so little time making them, I like to fuss a bit when thinking about presentation. Herbs, vegetables, flowers, flavored oils, capers, nuts, all these things add to the appeal of the soup, the flavor, and the texture. Every one of them can happily accept the addition of a protein to dress them for dinner.
My tried-and-true favorite chilled summer soups: