Sometimes nothing beats summer's heat better than a bowl of chilled soup. Gazpacho is classic, but why not try building soups around other refreshing ingredients, like grapes, cucumber and melon? Check out these ideas from our Test Kitchen:
Mild yet refreshing, chilled cucumber soup comes together in about 20 minutes, combining cucumbers with tangy yogurt, a little garlic and bright vinegar. Make it first thing in the morning, then chill until ready to serve for dinner. Garnish with slivered radish and julienned basil right before serving.
Grapes help form the base of The Sweet Life Cafe's white gazpacho: Puréed cucumbers and grapes form the base of this wonderfully fresh, bright soup, with yogurt and sour cream adding tangy richness, fresh lemon, a nice touch of garlic, sherry vinegar and a dash of hot sauce rounding out the harmony. Quick to make, the chilled soup makes a great snack or light meal.
Looking for another use for melons? Chef Todd Aarons was happy to share his recipe for this light, refreshing soup, perfect for this time of the year. He suggests using heirloom melons from the farmers market, such as those from
. He particularly likes their Sugar Queen, butterscotch or Ogen melons. Aarons also suggests using slightly underripe melons, since you don't want the soup to be too sweet. You can find the recipe below!
CHILLED CUCUMBER SOUP
Total time: About 20 minutes, plus chilling time
Servings: 4 to 6
Note: From former Test Kitchen director Donna Deane.
2 European cucumbers (about 1 pound each), cut into 2-inch chunks
2 cups plain yogurt
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons slivered radish (1 to 2 radishes), reserved in ice water
Maldon sea salt
4 small basil leaves, cut into julienne strips
1. In a blender, puree the cucumber and yogurt together in batches until smooth. Pour each batch into a large bowl.
2. Stir in the garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper. This makes about 6 cups soup.
3. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight until well chilled.
4. To serve, top each serving with slivered radish, a sprinkle of Maldon salt and a few julienne-cut basil leaves.
Each of 6 servings: 76 calories; 5 grams protein; 12 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 1 gram fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 5 mg. cholesterol; 351 mg. sodium.
THE SWEET LIFE CAFE'S WHITE GAZPACHO
Total time: 20 minutes, plus chilling time
Servings: 4 to 6
Note: Adapted from the Sweet Life Cafe on Massachusett's Martha's Vineyard. To make smoked paprika oil, warm 1/3 cup olive oil with 2 tablespoons smoked paprika in a small saucepan, then strain through cheesecloth and cool before using. The restaurant also suggests garnishing the soup with clams steamed in white wine.
2 hothouse cucumbers, peeled and chopped (seeds can be removed)
1/2 bunch green grapes (about 2 cups)
3 cloves garlic
1 cup yogurt, preferably Greek-style
1/2 cup sour cream or crème fraîche
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
Tabasco, or similar hot sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar, or as desired
Toasted almonds, for garnish
Sliced red grapes, for garnish
Smoked paprika oil, for garnish
1. Purée the cucumbers in a blender. Push the cucumbers through a sieve into a medium bowl. Blend the grapes and garlic in the blender, then push through a sieve and stir into the cucumbers.
2. Whisk in the yogurt, sour cream and lemon juice, and season with the salt, sugar and vinegar. Add the Tabasco to taste. This makes about 1½ quarts of soup. Chill the soup, then divide among chilled bowls and garnish with the almonds, grapes and paprika oil before serving.
Each of 6 servings (without garnish): 89 calories; 4 grams protein; 11 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 3 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 8 mg cholesterol; 9 grams sugar; 1,197 mg sodium.
TIERRA SUR'S HEIRLOOM MELON GAZPACHO
Total time: 30 minutes, plus chilling time
Servings: 4 to 6
Note: Adapted from chef Todd Aarons at Tierra Sur in Oxnard.
2 cups cubed French baguette or batard, all crusts removed, and cut into small cubes (about 1 baguette), divided
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white wine, Champagne or sherry vinegar
4 cups cubed, peeled and seeded melons (preferably heirloom, such as Sugar Queen, butterscotch, Ogen, Ananas)
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra oil for frying the croutons
3 dried bay leaves, ground to a powder
1/2 cup ice cubes, or as needed
Smoked paprika, garnish
1. In a bowl, soak 11/2 cups cubed bread in the vinegar.
2. Meanwhile, using a blender or food processor, puree the melons and red onion. Add the soaked bread and vinegar to the food processor and puree until completely smooth.
3. With the motor running, slowly add the one-fourth cup olive oil, then the ground bay leaves. Taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt.
4. If the soup is overly thick, add a few ice cubes and puree until the desired consistency is achieved. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and vinegar.
5. Transfer the soup to a nonreactive metal bowl and chill before serving. This makes about 4 cups soup.
6. While the soup is chilling, fry the garnish. Pan-fry the remaining cubes of bread in a hot skillet with a little olive oil until evenly toasted and golden-brown. Season to taste with a light sprinkling of salt.
7. Serve the soup, garnished with a few croutons and a sprinkling of paprika.
Each of 6 servings: 145 calories; 2 grams protein; 14 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 10 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 7 grams sugar; 93 mg. sodium.