In the winter there are few things as comforting and satisfying as a big bowl of hot soup, brimming with meat and root vegetables, a hearty soup with a slice or two of thick buttered bread is a winter favourite. But soup has its place on summer menus too. Chilled soups are healthy and delicious, and there’s something about a chilled soup that seems elegant and refined; a cold soup served on a sun-splashed patio usually elicits a murmuring of delight and even surprise. Maybe it’s because, as Canadians, when we think soup we usually think of the aforementioned hearty bowls of chunky, meaty winter soup, or have been inundated with images of children racing home to a steaming bowl of tomato soup, or vats of chicken noodle soup-Jewish penicillin-when someone goes down with a nasty cold. Chilled soups in the summer do not conjure up similar emotions, but simply delight us with bright, lively colours and fresh flavour
Probably the granddaddy and grandmommy of summer soups are gazpacho and vichyssoise, but you can make a delicious chilled soup out of just about anything; chilled romaine soup and chilled cantaloupe soup are not only super healthy and economical, they are inventive ways to make good use of otherwise common produce. And they are delicious too, so that helps.
However, there are a few guidelines you should follow when choosing to make a chilled soup; animal fats solidify at cold temperatures, so meats like beef and pork, and to a certain degree chicken are not good choices. I once worked in a restaurant where the soup of the day was a chilled bacon soup. Seriously. It did not go over well. I wonder where that chef is now….
If you are prepping your veggies by sautéing them first, use butter sparingly as it will harden when chilled. Similarly, vegetable fats like coconut oil that congeal at cold temperatures should also be avoided. Better to use your go-to olive oil or sunflower oils, and for drizzling extra flavor into the finished product a little nut oil, sesame, chili oil or pumpkin seed oil add colour and intense and or complimentary flavor. That being said, milk or cream, both high in animal fat, are great choices for cold soups.
Here are a few chilled soup ideas to get your creative juices flowing; chilled purple yellow and red tomato soup with chili oil, cold cucumber soup with buttermilk, yellow tomato gazpacho, watermelon and tomato gazpacho chilled avocado cream soup, chilled carrot soup with ginger …the more you think about these the more you are enticed to come up with your own variations.
But we leave you with a classic, Julia Child’s recipe for vichyssoise, a soup everyone should make at least once every summer. It’s good in the winter too, but summer’s where it’s at.
-from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
|3 cups||potatoes, peeled and cut into half moons|
|3 cups||leeks, chopped (only the white part)|
|1 ½||quarts vegetable stock (homemade or organic)|
|Salt to taste|
|½ cup||heavy cream|
|Salt and pepper to taste|
|fresh chopped chives for garnish|
- Simmer the vegetables in the stock for 40 to 50 minutes, partially covered. Add salt
- Blend with an immersion blender if you have one, or in batches with a regular blender.
- Run through cheese cloth to smooth out the consistency.
- Take off the heat and add cream. Season again with salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with chopped chives and serve.