Soups are typically a cold-weather food since they can deliciously warm the chill of cool days. Because they are a simple way to consume a generous amount of health-promoting vegetables, soups can be extremely nutritious. And research shows that soup has potential health benefits.
Do we need to save all that goodness for cold weather?
Enter chilled soups. In summer we are inundated with a bounty of seasonal produce, but soups aren’t a common menu item. Yet chilled soups are perfect for summer dining. They capture fresh and colorful produce at its peak, and provide a refreshing start to any meal on a hot summer day. These soups pair well with light meals featuring salads and sandwiches, but are also a nice contrast to heartier fare.
Most popular chilled soups are vegetable-based and served as a starter to a meal. Soups range from creamy smooth vegetable purees to chunky style soups brimming with crisp vegetables. Ingredients are often simple and highlight seasonal vegetables. Although fruit-based chilled soups are commonly enjoyed in Northern and Central Europe, at this point most North Americans don’t seem as keen on filling their soup bowls with something cold and sweet! (I’m with the majority – fruit soups aren’t my thing).
Soups are ideal for a healthful eating pattern because they blend a variety of protective foods in one bowl. Adding chilled soups to your spring and summer menus will allow you to enjoy delicious combinations of nutritious foods year round! Consider packing a refreshing chilled soup in a thermos for your lunch or for a picnic.
My favourite chilled soup is tomato-based gazpacho, a cold soup that originated in Spain. Its name means “soaked bread” referring to the original recipe that included bread crumbs. Although the most common versions today are rich with tomatoes and summer vegetables, you’ll find countless variations of this soup.
A recent study found that gazpacho consumption was associated with lower blood pressure and reduced hypertension in people at high risk for heart disease. Researchers speculate that these health benefits were “probably due to synergy among several bioactive compounds present in the vegetable ingredients used to make the recipe.”
Earlier research found that study volunteers who ate gazpacho twice a day for 7 days had decreased markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in their blood.
Cool Tips for Chilled Soups
- Make ahead to allow enough time for chilling and to give
the flavors time to meld
- Use quality ingredients, especially in simple soups
that focus on one or two vegetables
- Add lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, or sherry vinegar
to liven up the flavor of some soups
- Swirl in a dollop of yogurt or low-fat sour cream
to add richness
- Garnish with colorful diced vegetables or fresh herbs
- Serve with a vegetable juice ice cube
- Use vegetable or chicken stock to lend body to savory soups
Chilled Soup Ideas & Recipes
Some soups that are usually served hot are delicious cold as well. Good ones to try are smooth purees featuring carrot, sweet potato, or squash. Green pea soups and corn chowders can also be delicious cold. Because cooler temperatures can dull some flavors, chilled soups might require more garlic or other seasonings than their hot counterparts. For some soups, you can use lemon juice or vinegar to accent the flavors.
- Summer Gazpacho (my favourite!)
- Twelve Cold Soup Recipes. Adaptable recipes that can be made with the vegetables and fruits of summer, or whatever is in your fridge. (Mark Bittman, New York Times)
- Healthy Chilled Soup Recipes (Eating Well)