Sometimes nothing beats the heat better than a bowl of chilled soup. It may not technically be summer yet in Southern California, but it's hot enough for cold soup to be a pretty good alternative to cooking a full meal in your kitchen. Gazpacho is classic, but you can also try building soups around other refreshing ingredients, like grapes, cucumber and melon. Check out these ideas from our Test Kitchen:
Thomas Keller's gazpacho: This gazpacho from Thomas Keller, featured as part of a Master Class on soups, is a perfect way to beat the heat. And it's substantial enough to be a meal on its own, and you can make it in half an hour. The recipe calls for chilling it overnight before blending and serving; this helps the flavors to develop and combine. I've also made it the morning of, and even shortly before serving it (if you're doing this, chill the soup over an ice bath).
White gazpacho with grapes: Like the more familiar red variations, the basic oil and bread emulsion is also the starting point for white gazpacho, such as ajo blanco con uvas (white garlic with grapes). Made with ground almonds, garlic, bread, olive oil and vinegar and garnished with grapes, this cold soup comes from the rich Moorish-Arabic heritage. More than the sum of its parts, ajo blanco is unusual and delicious.
Cucumber and yogurt soup with barley: For a soup at once filling and refreshing, this chilled soup combines cool cucumbers and yogurt with fresh garlic, mint and dill, along with pearl barley and crunchy walnuts. The soup will be ready to serve in about 45 minutes, with flavors that only improve as it chills.
Andalusian garden gazpacho: Tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, onion and a little garlic come together in this simple gazpacho variation. Prepare it first thing in the morning, then refrigerate it so it's well-chilled before serving.
Chilled cucumber soup: Mild yet refreshing, chilled cucumber soup takes only 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.
The Sweet Life's white gazpacho: Pureed cucumbers and grapes form the base of this wonderfully fresh, bright soup, with yogurt and sour cream adding tangy richness, and 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.
Chilled avocado and watercress soup with shrimp: Creamy avocado and fresh, slightly peppery watercress, combine perfectly together in this soup topped with shrimp.
Chilled pea soup with fines herbes: Use fresh or frozen peas as the flavor base for this simple soup, which combines the rich flavors of onion, chicken broth, tangy creme fraiche and fresh fines herbes (tarragon, parsley, chervil and chives).
Spicy cucumber gazpacho: This cool, vibrant green gazpacho from Esperanza An Auberge Resort at Cabo San Lucas packs flavor with cucumber, creamy yogurt, fresh lime juice, mint and cilantro, along with a nice jolt of heat from Thai chile pasta and jalapeno. The soup takes only about 20 minutes to make.
Obika's chilled organic tomato soup: Little more than a chilled puree of fresh tomatoes, this is one soup in which the quality of ingredients makes all the difference.
Urth Cafe's gazpacho: Fresh tomato, cucumber, onion and bell pepper form the base of this soup, brightened with a touch of red wine vinegar and lemon juice and spiced with cayenne pepper and hot sauce. The soup takes only about 30 minutes, then simply chill before serving. You can find the recipe below.
URTH CAFE'S GAZPACHO
Total time: 30 minutes, plus chilling time for the gazpacho | Serves 6
Note: Adapted from Urth Caffe.
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes (about 4), peeled, seeded and chopped (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups chopped seedless Persian cucumber (from about 4 whole)
1 cup diced onion (from about 1/2 whole)
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper (from about 1/4 whole)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup tomato juice, more to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
Tabasco sauce, or other hot sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon diced fresh chives
1. In a blender, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, garlic, tomato juice and vinegar. Puree the mixture, then pour into a medium bowl.
2. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, or to taste (amount of salt can vary depending on the brand of tomato juice, if purchased), one-half teaspoon each of black pepper and cayenne pepper, and one-fourth teaspoon each of the Tabasco, lemon juice and olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings and flavoring as desired.
3. Cover and refrigerate the gazpacho until well-chilled. Stir in the chives, and thin if desired with additional tomato juice or water. Taste and adjust the seasonings once more. This makes a generous quart of gazpacho.
Each serving: 125 calories; 2 grams protein; 10 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 9 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 6 grams sugar; 701 mg sodium.