Summer Eating: Cold Soup

Soup is one of those foods that are ideal for bachelors. They are easy to make, can contain just about anything and be used as a main dish, side dish or even a snack. They are easy to re-heat and store. They can even travel well.

But who wants a hot bowl of soup when it’s so hot outside? So, we can take a page from warmer climes and come up with some cold soup ideas that make a great accompaniment to sandwiches, light snack or salads — in short, summertime fare.

There are two best known cold soups: gazpacho and vichyssoise. While these are popular for a reason, you’re certainly not limited to these two types of soup. There are also many soups we normally serve warm that can be served cold with the addition of some herbs or fresh summer vegetables like cucumbers or zucchini.

Gazpacho is a Spanish style soup that is perfect for warm weather and popular in Western Mediterranean and Central American counties. At its base are tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil and vinegar. There are many variations. If this sounds a lot like salsa, you’d be right. But don’t break out a jar of salsa and start eating. There are some differences.

Most gazpachos are blended into a puree with the other ingredients added in a small dice to make it smooth and chunky at the same time. Most recipes call for fresh tomatoes, seeded and cored, but you can use canned diced tomatoes, which actually will hold up better because they’ve been cooked. Gazpacho is usually served as an appetizer, but it can stand on its own with some crusty bread for a light lunch. To up the protein count, try adding some cooked cocktail shrimp or leftover diced chicken.

Vichyssoise is essentially a potato and leek soup made with chicken stock. We think of it as French, but actually it was invented in a New York hotel restaurant. There is a French soup using potatoes and leeks that’s served hot and is very common in Europe. Again, there are many different recipes but basically, you make a hot soup of potatoes, onions, leeks and herbs cooked with chicken stock. The soup is then pureed into a smooth, thick liquid, cold milk or half and half is added, stirred in and then chilled before serving. I like this even hot in the summer, but trying it cold might be worth a try. A touch of fresh dill would go well with this. So would a sandwich.

But summer, cold soups don’t have to stop there. Many summer soups are made from cold fruit. The fruit is pureed with milk, sugar and other ingredients to make something a little less smooth and a bit spicier than a smoothie. These are often served as desserts, but can also be used a great appetizer.

Still more summer soups can be made from ingredients usually served warm, such as sweet potatoes, broccoli or squash. Smoothed in a blender or food processor and chilled with milk or cream, these more unusual soups can make a bit of a surprise at the next family picnic.

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