From Blender to Bowl: Why You Need Cold Soup in Your Life This Summer.

by Samantha Suarez |Photography by David Specht 

Sometimes, soup is a dish best served cold.

While it’s true while there are few things more comforting than a warm bowl of soup during the autumn and winter months, once spring and summer arrive, something lighter and cooler might tickle your fancy more. After all, who wants to guzzle down a hot bowl of stew when it’s 90 degrees outside? We’re team soup all year round, so instead of neglecting soup from June to August, we say give cold soup a try!

Cold soups are an incredibly refreshing and tasty concept. Because they usually incorporate raw vegetables that can be chopped up and tossed into a blender or food processor, they’re one of the more nutritious methods of preparing food. The entire essence of the vegetable or fruit is consumed, rather than being boiled away or drained. They’re also a convenient solution for getting a nutritious meal when sizzling in the sun leaves you in no mood to turn on the stove or stand over a steaming pot.

Meet Your Souper Food

Cold soups are a no-fuss, simple meal, where you essentially combine a bunch of flavors in a bowl. They can be made with virtually any fresh seasonal ingredients: from watermelon to cucumbers, or even beets — you name it.

Any color or texture you desire can be tossed in and adjusted with other flavors to cater to your personal taste. If you want to keep it completely vegetarian, you can even use ingredients like avocado, ground almonds, or yogurt as a stand-in for soup stock. While a recipe is encouraged for those giving it their first shot, it is certainly not required. The final product can vary from utterly savory to intensely sweet, and everything in between. It’s the perfect way to make use of the freshest summer produce

When most foodies think of chilled soups, the first ones that come to mind are usually the renowned Spanish gazpacho and the French style vichyssoise. While those are just the beginning of cold summer soups, we feel that it’s essential to share them with those unfamiliar with the classics.

Gazpacho

Think of gazpacho as sort of a liquid salad. A classic of Spanish cuisine, it originated in the southern region of Andalusia and is traditionally made with ripe tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, garlic, olive oil, wine vinegar, water, salt and stale bread. The bread is moistened with the water that is blended with olive oil, vinegar, and ice water, and then served cold.

Refreshing and crisp, gazpacho is widely eaten in Spain and Portugal, particularly during the hot summers. Despite extra chopping involved, this uncooked tomato-based soup is a beautiful concoction because the end result packs a bold, chunky bite of summery flavors.

There are many other less traditional but also super delicious fruity variations of gazpacho, including watermelon gazpacho, cantaloupe gazpacho, and strawberry gazpacho.

Stephan VanHeulen, Chef de Cuisine of Cygnus 27, created a green gazpacho for the restaurant’s spring and summer menu.

“Traditionally, gazpacho has a tomato base. I’m trying to elevate that a little by using more spring flavors, like cucumbers, green peppers, spinach, green onions, sherry vinegar, garlic, some jalapeno for spice,” VanHeulen said. “There’s also greek yogurt that’s been thinned out with lemon juice, and then it’s garnished with some fresh dill and smoked paprika. You just blend it all together and chill it until it’s really cold. My goal was to get some vibrant green color to it. I wanted people to think of lily pads floating on a green lake when they see it. It definitely has the traditional Spanish method as inspiration, but isn’t boxed in by it.”

“The fresher local ingredients you use with more flavor, rather than the supermarket vegetables, the better. That will help your cold
soup immensely.” 

—Stephan VanHuelen, Chef de Cuisine  of Cygnus 28

As for Chef Stephan’s thoughts and advice on making cold soup, he had this to say, “It’s like the juice cleanse trend, except you’re not straining out any of the fiber or true nutrients of the ingredients. It’s a soup cleanse!” he then added, “The fresher local ingredients you use with more flavor, rather than the supermarket vegetables, the better. That will help your cold
soup immensely.”

Vichyssoise

Vichyssoise is a thick, French style soup made of boiled and pureed potatoes, leeks, onion, cream and either chicken stock or water. Easy and economical, it is traditionally served chilled, but can also be served hot. Despite its fancy-sounding name, this soup has humble beginnings and utilizes easy-to-find everyday ingredients.

Although it’s a staple in most French menus, vichyssoise holds a special place in many chefs’ hearts, including the late Anthony Bourdain. In his book Kitchen Confidential, he credits vichyssoise as the dish that, as a young boy on a transatlantic cruise with his family, gave him his first food epiphany. He describes it as his “first indication that food was something other than a substance one stuffed in one’s face when hungry.” He further writes:

I remember everything about the experience: the way our waiter ladled it from a silver tureen into my bowl; the crunch of tiny chopped chives he spooned on as a garnish; the rich, creamy taste of leek and potato; the pleasurable shock, the surprise that it was cold…  that soup stayed with me. It resonated, waking me up, making me aware of my tongue and, in some way, preparing me for future events.

Alessandro Guerrazzi, Chef de Cuisine of six.one.six at the JW Marriott, which recently updated its menu to feature a variety of French items, describes vichyssoise as “a very simple country style potato and leek soup.” He prepared the dish for us off the menu, hoping to include it as a spring and summer special eventually.

Guerrazzi was born in Italy and grew up eating cold soups. “It was common for us, especially during the summer. I encourage everyone to try it. If you don’t like it, then you don’t like it – but at least try it. It’s very refreshing,” he said. As for his advice for those interested in experimenting with cold soups, he said, “You can make anything into cold soup: butternut squash, zucchini, peas.” When making cold soup with leafy greens, he advises, “Add a few pieces of ice while they are blending so that the soup doesn’t discolor into an army green and remains a vibrant green. It’s a technique I learned from French chefs.”

Waiter, I’ll have the Soup
On the Rocks

There are hundreds of other cold soup recipes online for you to try. Some worth exploring are chilled cucumber soup, Hungarian sour cherry soup (meggyleves), borscht (a Russian and Ukrainian beet-based soup), and cold pea soup.

In the sweltering heat at the end of a long workday, cold soup can be sweet, soothing relief. Even better, it’s not demanding. So often is it prepared by just throwing some ingredients into a blender, setting it to whir, and voila! Your food is ready. Even the soups that require minimal cooking are worth it and can be prepped ahead – and then they’re just waiting for you in the fridge to consume whenever you please.

I hope to see many of you enjoying the sun this summer, carrying takeout bowls filled to the rim with tasty cold soup.


Samantha Suarez

Sam was born in Chicago, grew up in the Philippines, attended college in Australia and is now living in Grand Rapids. She loves cheese, video games and music, and will quote a movie or TV show every chance she gets.


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