Soup’s on! And when prepared with ripe, seasonal vegetables, accented with flavorful herbs, and served chilled, it’s a fabulous warm weather refresher. Versatile and easy to make, chilled soup works for lunch (follow it up with a salad) or for dinner as a light first course. Chilled soups can be made with everything from asparagus and ripe tomatoes to cucumbers and zucchini. The base might be low-fat or light buttermilk or low-fat plain yogurt, though chopped or puréed vegetables can also impart a nice consistency. The best chilled soups start with top-quality ingredients, so shop for locally grown produce at your supermarket or visit a farmers’ market if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby. You can also whip up some heat-beating cold soups with jarred vegetables like roasted red and yellow bell peppers.
Spice it up
Keep in mind that chilling a soup can muffle its seasonings a bit, so be sure to taste as you go — and expect to use a bit more of the various herbs and spices than you would if the soup was being served hot. It makes sense to sample the soup just before you serve it, too, in case it needs a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Getting the right
A food processor makes chilled soup supereasy to make. Select the food processor setting depending upon how chunky and thick or thin and smooth you want your soup to be. If you prefer a thinner soup, press the “liquefy” button. If a chunkier soup is what you have in mind, press “chop” and just pulse the soup, stopping every few seconds until you like the consistency.
Chill it fast
Once you’ve made the soup, plan on refrigerating it for about three hours. In a hurry? Fast-track the chilling process by transferring the soup to a metal mixing bowl, placing it inside a larger bowl that you have filled with ice and cold water, and stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes or until the soup is well-chilled. To keep your soup nice and icy, chill the serving bowl as well as the individual bowls you plan to serve it in for about 20 minutes in advance.
You don’t have to top your summer soups with the all-too-common, not-too-good-for-you white bread croutons. If it’s crunch you want, garnish the soup with some nuts or seeds instead. A sprinkling of chopped pistachios is delicious on chilled asparagus soup; chopped toasted walnuts work well with chilled carrot soup; and a light sprinkling of pumpkin seeds is great for topping a chilled red or yellow bell pepper soup. Or add more of the same fresh herbs you used to flavor your soup itself as a visually pleasing garnish: A sprinkling of fresh basil is delicious on cold tomato soup, for example, or top your chilled cucumber-dill soup with a few sprigs of that flavorful summer herb.