Summer in Boston is a magical and beautiful time. The flowers are out, Charles River is bustling, and all the patios/roof decks are open. If you’ve ever been to New England in the summer, you might think that 80 degrees might not be too bad but HOLY CANNOLI the humidity can be a KILLER! You walk outside and immediately start sweating. And forget about keeping that cute hairstyle…frizz central!
Being a soup person (cue Seinfeld Season 7 Episode 6), I was always a little bummed when winter ended and fresh soups were harder to come by. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE fan of Gazpacho – the chunky kind, don’t be puréeing that shiz – but there’s gotta be more to the chilled soup game, right?!
Enter my most recent project: Finding amazing, healthy, chilled summer soups. I’ve spent the last couple weeks testing out various recipes and fruit/veg combos and I have to say…YUM. My body has thanked me for all the vitamins and my taste buds have been having quite the party!
Get on the soup train…Larry Thomas approved.
Soup #1: Chilled Cucumber Soup from Garlic & Zest
While I usually steer clear of softer tofu, the addition of it in this recipe added a beautiful silkiness to the texture. The soup itself is light, airy and refreshing. I whipped this beauty up in less than 25 min as part of my Sunday meal prep and brought it for some lunches during the week. It keeps nicely in the fridge for a couple days, just add the toppings day of. This soup can also be used as a nice appetizer.
I followed Garlic & Zest’s recipe pretty closely, with the only difference being the Pico de Gallo since I didn’t have a jalapeño at the time. Instead, I topped with cilantro and cucumber slices. I bet the little kick the pepper gives would have been a nice addition though.
Soup #2: Cold Carrot Soup with Jalapeño Coconut Milk from Spiced Blog
Looking for a summer soup that will fill you up and keep you satisfied? Look no further. This carrot soup was thick, creamy (without adding any cream – yay!) and had just the right kick. Adding the jalapeño coconut milk on top really made a difference. The pieces of jalapeños not only added crunch but also paired wonderfully with the touch of cumin to add a little heat.
I did make a couple modifications to the recipe. I swapped the chicken stock for reduced sodium vegetable stock to make it vegetarian. I also used Trader Joes Reduced Fat Unsweetened Coconut Milk. This worked for the soup, but I would recommend getting the full fat version if you want to make the jalapeño milk topping. Mine was watery, where I was hoping for a bit more thickness. Cooking is about experimentation. There’s a beauty in making mistakes and trying new things. Lesson learned.
Soup #3: Quick Healthy Zucchini Basil Soup from Feasting at Home
OK if you want to know what food heaven tastes like…make this soup. We’re talking about a silky smooth mixture of farm grown zucchinis and basil that is completely vegan. No milk products needed. This incredible vegetable provides texture that’ll blow your socks off – keep the Lactaid in the cabinet.
I followed Feasting At Home’s recipe quite closely, save for the garnish of yogurt/sour cream. Instead, I topped with basil leaves. I also used 1 cup each of water and veggie stock, instead of 2 cups of either. This recipe is legitimately on point. There’s nothing I would change about it. It is a great soup to eat warm, but I also packed it up in containers for a cold work week lunch. If you have the opportunity to hit up a farmer’s market before the end of August, the zukes will be phenom. I got mine from Plainville Farm in Hadley, MA.
Soup #4: Pea and Mint Soup from Not Enough Cinnamon
This soup is nothing short of two peas in a pod…OK cheesy I know, but totally had to make the reference. Petite peas are used in this recipe instead of regular green peas because the adorable petite variety adds a sweeter flavor and creamier texture. Because peas have such a short growth season, purchasing frozen petite peas reduces the starchiness you will get from the legume.
If you are not a pea person, this soup is not for you because the taste is like a pea party in your mouth. The hint of shallot and mint adds some depth to the flavor profile. It’s a refreshing and smooth soup that can be served both hot or cold (although I prefer it cold). I’m also big on adding a kick to my food, so I experimented with chopped jalapeños (seeds removed) and it gave a slight heat and crunchiness to each bite that tied all the flavors together nicely.
Soup #5: Yellow Tomato + Corn Gazpacho from What’s Cooking Good Looking
It just wouldn’t be summer without farm stand tomatoes and corn on the cob. So when I came across What’s Cooking Good Looking’s gazpacho, I knew I had to try it. I kept to the recipe and honestly wouldn’t change a thing. The colors from all the produce were so vibrant, and the fresh crisp flavors did not disappoint.
I packed these up for weekday lunches, which was quick and easy. My only piece of advice would be to add the avocado and micro greens day of. Then sit back and watch as your “another deli sandwich” co-workers look on with envy.
Soup #6: Chilled Watermelon Gazpacho from Spiced Blog
What better way to celebrate summer than with the ultimate thirst quenching staple; the watermelon?! Ever since I was a kid, I can remember enjoying cold watermelon slices while my toes were dug deep in the sand. Not only is the beautiful fruit full of nutrients and antioxidants…it’s down right delicious!
August is when we find watermelon at its prime. It’s sweet, refreshing and the perfect twist to a summer gazpacho. Using the Spiced Blog’s recipe, I made a couple tweaks based on personal preference.
First, I used a shallot in place of red onion as shown in the recipe. Shallots tend to carry a sweeter flavor when eaten raw, compared to its red counterpart which are more on the spicy side when not cooked. Shallots also bring a hint of garlic (and who doesn’t love garlic), which is always welcome in a dish of mine.
Now, I don’t know about you but I am a HUGE fan of spicy margaritas. One of my girlfriends, Jacki, has the best spicy marg recipe and I’m literally drooling just thinking about it. So in honor of her smashing bev, I diced up a jalapeño, discarding the seeds, and added to the blender. Coupled with the chili powder (which I would only add a touch of), the addition of the jalapeño married deliciously with the watermelon and added that heat that I love oh so much.
Lastly, I wanted to balance out the heat so I didn’t start sweating during lunch in the office. Toss in a couple mint leaves and not only will the herb calm the peppers but it also aids in digestion and stimulates the mind.
This project has been as enjoyable as it has been delicious. I’ve had so much fun experimenting with various produce and seeing what heavenly concoctions they can create. I’ve also proven to myself that soup isn’t just a cold weather comfort food. There is a world outside of the traditional gazpacho, and it is yum-my (don’t worry G, you’re still a fav)!
What cold soups catch your eye every time the temp starts to rise??