Chill Out With These Delicious Summer Soups

Our hot, wish-I-had-AC-right-now weather arrives in a short window in the Northwest, usually in July and August. It’s never that warm for that long, but we do get enough sun to ripen the tomatoes, brown the lawn, and send us to area beaches.

When afternoon temps hover around 85℉, Northwesterners know to eschew the stovetop and make a beeline for our barbecues and outdoor dining. You may already be grilling local salmon and preparing sumptuous veggie salads from your kitchen garden, but have you added a cold soup into your summer supper repertoire?

Cold soups are easy to prepare and you can make them ahead of time for an effortless dinner in minutes after a day by the lake, river, out hiking, or whenever you feel too energy-sapped to do much cooking. Simply pour your pre-made soup into a bowl, add a garnish or two, slice some crusty wholegrain bread, and you’re in business. Finish your meal with a cupful of seasonal berries or, late in the summer, ripe melon.

Healthy, satisfying, and undemanding—these summer soups will find their way into your weekly rotation until autumn’s chill arrives.

The (sort of) French Connection

Most think of vichyssoise as a French creation, but a chef in New York is credited for developing the satisfying summer classic in 1917. To be fair, the chef—Louis Diat—was from France and took inspiration for the dish from a hot soup his mother made him as a child.

For your take on Diat’s recipe, you could try a traditional vichyssoise, or, you might attempt a cauliflower vichyssoise from the well-known cookbook, The Daily Soup. Butter, leeks, thyme, and two cups of heavy cream guarantee a rich soup so tasty that your family will not realize they are also eating four heads of cauliflower florets. You’ll keep it cold in the fridge until mealtime, and then sprinkle a dash of coarsely chopped parsley on top of each bowl before serving.

The Queen of Cold

Due to the pandemic, most of us are not traveling to Europe these days. Bring a little touch of Spain to your home with a pot of gazpacho. This tomato-based soup has a lot going for it. Firstly, it’s vegetarian, the perfect choice for gatherings where you need to be mindful of many food preferences. It’s also dairy-free, low-fat, and a great place to use all those ripening tomatoes you’re harvesting from the starts you planted back in April.

Gazpacho is my favorite chilled soup, a dish I learned to crave during the decade I spent living in Spain. It is often served with diced red onion, cucumber, and crunchy croutons on the side—a drizzle of olive oil looped on top. My Spanish mother-in-law is a wonderful cook. I’ve included her recipe for gazpacho below, or you could try this one out if you need more guidance. Seattle chef, Wayne Johnson, has a spicy version of gazpacho that calls for jalapeños and plump shrimp. Spicy is not common in Spain, so this is a departure from the traditional, but innovative and interesting nonetheless.

Mother-in-Law Gazpacho

  • two cups ripe tomatoes
  • half of a cucumber
  • half of a garlic clove
  • half of a small white onion
  • one slice of white bread soaked in red vinegar
  • salt to taste

Blend everything together in a food processor. Add water and olive oil as you blend until you have the consistency you want. Chill for a few hours. Serve cold with aforementioned toppings.

If you aspire to a heartier version of gazpacho, attempt a salmorejo. The idea is similar, but salmorejo’s base is thicker (thanks to a generous amount of stale bread) and features protein-rich toppings including hardboiled eggs and finely chopped Iberian ham or prosciutto. It’s delicious and popular all across Spain, though is said to have originated in Andalusia where summers can be beastly.

Additional cold soups to try this season include Chilled Curried Apple, ideal when the northwestern apple crops come in, or opt for this Cold Cucumber Soup with Yogurt and Dill, a dreamy August and early September recipe.

Image by kajakiki

Regina Winkle-Bryan

Regina Winkle-Bryan is back home in the Northwest after a decade in Spain where she wrote mostly about food, travel, and design. Originally from Portland, she now calls Seattle home and spends her weekends exploring the endless beauty of the Puget Sound. Learn more about her at https://reginawinklebryan.contently.com/



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