This guide can help you explore the tradition of cold soup-making to beat the summer heat. Simple, healthful, cooling soups can be prepared from now until the return of brisk weather late in the year. To make a variety of cold soups, follow the basic guidelines outlined here, choosing ingredients that are ripe for harvesting or readily available. A blender is an essential kitchen tool for preparing most cold-soup recipes. However, if you don’t have a blender, you can experiment with other ways of combining each soup’s components. Be sure to sample each soup as you go, adjusting ingredients to your taste, especially if you are making a soup for the first time.

PART ONE: Preparing soups that are cooked and then chilled

This method is discussed first because it is suitable for soups featuring vegetables that will be going out of season soonest, such as lettuce and carrots.  It can also be used to make soups with summer vegetables.

Choose a central ingredient. This will be a vegetable that is currently available in bulk. Early in the warm season, this may be a leafy green such as lettuce or a root vegetable like carrots. Later, once spring leaf crops go out of season, you can substitute the leaves of herbs like basil to add a green note to chilled soup. (Part two of this series has instructions for making cold basil soup.) Use a generous amount of your central ingredient, keeping in mind that this will be blended with your liquid base to form the body of your soup. The number of servings you want to prepare will determine how much of this ingredient to add; or, vice versa, the amount of this ingredient you have on hand will determine how many servings you can make.

Choose complementary ingredients. Often, your main ingredient can stand alone as the centerpiece of a simple cold soup, but in some cases, the soup’s flavor and texture can be improved or varied by adding other vegetables. A very light lettuce soup, for instance, is improved with a substantial vegetable like a potato added to the mix, while earthy beet soup (featured in part three of this series) benefits from the fiery flavors of radishes and green onions. The mellow flavor of a watermelon soup (featured in part two) can become more savory if a cucumber and/or tomatoes are added. You will also want to add some herbs and/or spices that combine well with whichever vegetable is the centerpiece of your cold soup.

Have the central ingredient and any additional vegetables, herbs, and spices prepared ahead of time, so you can add them quickly, to avoid burning them. Peel, chop, and grind your ingredients ahead of time as needed.

Start by sautéing aromatic vegetables in olive oil until softened. The aromatic vegetables can selected from whichever allium family crops are now in season, such as scallions (green onions,) bulbing onions, and/or garlic. Ginger is another good choice.

Add your main ingredient.

Add other vegetables if needed.

Add some spice.

Add a liquid base. Generally, you can start with water. Vegetable broth is also a good base for many savory cold soups. It’s often best to use enough liquid to cover all of the ingredients and then some.

Bring to boil, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender.

Remove from heat and let cool. Allow the soup to cool for ten minutes or so before blending. This is an important step that can keep the blender lid from flying off.

Purée in a blender. To be safe, purée in small batches instead of blending all of the soup at once. Be careful when blending if liquid is still hot!

Transfer to a vessel/container and add final ingredients. Additional spices, small amounts of lemon or lime juice, and various vinegars can be added at this stage for balancing flavors.

Chill in the refrigerator.

Add garnish before serving. Choose a garnish that complements whichever vegetable is the centerpiece of your cold soup.

A Sampling of Soups to Cook and Then Chill

In the examples below, the soup-making process is outlined in broad strokes. Ingredient quantities are omitted, to help you see the similarities across these soups, instead of focusing on any particular recipe. If you are making a soup for the first time, or if you want to make refinements, you can find specific instructions with a quick internet search.

 

LETTUCE SOUP

“A great way to use lettuce’s outer leaves and ribs, which usually go to waste.”
epicurious.com

Heat olive oil in a pan.
Sauté sliced scallions, chopped onions, and diced garlic in the oil.
Add lots of chopped lettuce, including ribs and ugly leaves.
Add a peeled and diced potato.
Add some spice, such as coriander, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
Add vegetable broth with a little bit of lemon juice, or just use water.
Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so before transferring to a blender to purée.
Be careful when blending if liquid is still hot! Purée in small batches instead of blending all of the soup at once.
Transfer to a vessel/container.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Once soup has cooled completely, chill it in the refrigerator.
Garnish with croutons before serving.

CARROT SOUP

Heat olive oil in a pan.
Sauté sliced scallions, chopped onions, diced ginger, and diced garlic in the oil, along with
Several handfuls of chopped carrots
Add some spice — cinnamon, curry, red pepper flakes, turmeric, and salt.
Add enough water to cover everything.
Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until the carrots are tender.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so before transferring to a blender to purée.
Be careful when blending if liquid is still hot! Purée in small batches instead of blending all of the soup at once.
Transfer to a vessel/container.
Add lemon juice and vinegar to taste.
Once soup has cooled completely, chill it in the refrigerator.
Garnish with cilantro, mint, or parsley before serving.

SUMMER SQUASH SOUP

Heat olive oil in a pan.
Sauté chopped onion, chopped jalapeño, and minced garlic.
Add lots of grated summer squash.
Add some spice, such as chopped mint, salt, and pepper
Add vegetable broth.
Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until the squash is tender.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so before transferring to a blender to purée.
Be careful when blending if liquid is still hot! Purée in small batches instead of blending all of the soup at once.
Transfer to a vessel/container.
Add coconut milk, salt, and pepper to taste.
Once soup has cooled completely, chill it in the refrigerator.
Garnish with chopped jalapeños before serving.
 

Next

PART TWO: Preparing no-cook soups (no heat needed)

 
 
SOURCES:
 
Tietje, Kate. “How to Make Soup from Scratch.” Simplebites.net. April 27, 2011.
 
Country Living staff. “31 Cold Soup Recipes for Hot Summer Days.” Country Living. April 12, 2017.
 
Gelles, Carol. 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes. New York, New York: Hungry Minds, Inc., 1996.
 
Grilled Romaine Soup with Cauliflower Puree.” Country Living website. June 25, 2007.
 
Lettuce Soup.” epicurious.com
 
Bittman, Mark. “Chilled Lettuce Soup.” New York Times: Cooking.
 
Carrot Soup with Cucumber Pistachio Relish.” Country Living website. June 25, 2007.
 
Michalski, Dara. “Creamy Zucchini Cocunut Milk Soup.” Cookin Canuck website. June 28, 2010.