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Cool off on the last days of summer with 3 cold soup recipes

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Summer squash soup. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Summer squash soup. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

The dog days of summer are almost behind us, but the heat remains in much of the country. It’s that time of year when days can still be humid and steamy, but nights begin to cool down. Cold soup still has huge appeal this time of year. And all three of these soups make for a simple, easy dinner or lunch and can be served cold or, if you find the weather turns, are equally good served hot.

The tomato soup takes its influence from Spain. It requires no cooking and is made from fresh tomatoes, garlic, bread, smoked paprika and vinegar. It’s a cousin of Spain’s other famed cold soup, gazpacho.

The zucchini soup uses up all those end-of-the-season squash you may find running amok in your garden. Zucchini, summer squash and patty pan squash are blended together in a simple soup.

And the third soup combines carrots and fennel in a thin broth that is light and thoroughly refreshing.

One of the best ways to elevate cold soup is to get creative about toppings and garnishes. All these soups can be topped with a simple squeeze of lemon and a grinding of pepper and coarse sea salt, or a swirl of heavy cream, yogurt or sour cream. Or, you can get a bit more ambitious and top with croutons or sauteed vegetables. For the carrot soup, I top each bowl with a simple carrot-fennel slaw to round out the flavors of the soup. The zucchini soup is garnished with thin slices of sauteed squash. And the tomato soup is finished off with chopped cucumber, basil leaves, and salted almonds. Think outside the box.

All the soups can be made a day ahead of time. Plan on letting them chill for at least three to four hours. If you choose to serve the soup hot simply reheat until simmering. Do not add the garnishes until just before serving — whether the soup is cold or hot.

A word on stocks: You can use boxed vegetable or chicken stock for these soups. If you want to make your own stock, here are a few recipes:

  • Click here for a chicken stock recipe
  • Click here for a “recycled” vegetable stock recipe

Cold carrot and fennel soup with carrot-fennel slaw

Cold carrot and fennel soup with carrot-fennel slaw (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Cold carrot and fennel soup with carrot-fennel slaw (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Bright and refreshing, this carrot and fennel soup is thinner than the others but bursting with flavor. Carrots and fennel are sauteed with onion and a potato and then simmered in vegetable broth before being pureed. The soup is then strained and topped with a simple carrot and fennel slaw and dollops of sour cream or Greek yogurt. You will use one large fennel bulb in this soup — the bulb is used to make the soup and the slaw garnish and the fennel fronds — the dill-like herb that grows above fennel root are used for flavor and garnish.

Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

The soup:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fennel fronds or fresh dill, chopped
  • 14 ounces carrots — about 3 large or 4 to 6 medium — peeled and chopped
  • ½ large fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 small potato, about 4 ounces, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

The carrot and fennel slaw and garnishes:

  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
  • ½ fennel bulb, very thinly sliced or grated
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fennel fronds or fresh dill
  • 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • About 1/3 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt

Instructions

  1. Make the soup: In a medium soup pot heat the oil over low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes. Add the salt and pepper and fennel fronds and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the carrot, fennel, and potato and cook for 4 minutes.
  2. Raise the heat to high and add the stock; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender when tested with a small, sharp knife.
  3. Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Using a handheld immersion blender, a blender or food processor blend the soup until smooth; it will be quite thick.
  5. Place a fine sieve over a large bowl and stir the soup through the sieve. Discard the thick puree left in the sieve.
  6. Place the soup in the refrigerator until chilled, about 3 to 4 hours.
  7. Make the slaw: in a bowl mix all the slaw ingredients (not the sour cream) and season to taste.
  8. To serve: place the soup in the bowl, top with a tablespoon or two of the slaw and a dollop of sour cream.

Spanish-style smoky salmorejo

Spanish-style smoky salmorejo. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Spanish-style smoky salmorejo. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Salmorejo is similar to gazpacho but it’s made primarily with tomatoes and bread and then flavored with smoky paprika and vinegar. This is the soup for this time of year when days can still be hot and steamy and your energy for cooking and heating up the kitchen is low. Fresh garden tomatoes are grated on a cheese grater and then blended with garlic, bread, vinegar and smoky Spanish paprika. The mixture is whirled up and it’s done. Serve topped with cucumbers, almonds, lemon oil, or a wide variety of toppings. Cool, refreshing and made from start to finish in about 15 minutes.

Serves 2 as a main course and 4 as a first course.

Ingredients

The soup:

  • 2 thick slices bread, about ½-inch each
  • 1 ½ pound ripe tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red, white or sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika or sweet paprika*
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Garnishes:

  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • ⅓ cup chopped Marcona or regular almonds
  • Lemon oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dash smoked paprika or regular sweet paprika
  • Sprigs of fresh basil or chopped chives

*Smoked paprika is slightly spicy and smoky. The peppers are smoked and dried. You can substitute regular sweet paprika with a touch of hot pepper sauce. Or you can mail order it here or here.

Instructions

  1. Place the bread in a small bowl and add ¼ cup of cold water. Soak for 5 minutes, making sure each slice soaks up the water. Squeeze out the water and place bread in the container of a blender or food processor.
  2. Working over a bowl, grate the tomatoes on a box cheese grater on the largest hole. Add the garlic, vinegar, paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Place the mixture into the blender or food processor with the bread and whirl until thick and smooth. Taste for seasoning.
  4. Chill for 3 to 4 hours, and serve cold topped with any or all of the garnishes.

Summer squash soup

You can use a variety of zucchini, summer squash and patty pan squash for this simple soup.

Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

Summer squash soup. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Summer squash soup. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

The soup:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 leeks* or 1 large onion, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 pounds zucchini, summer squash and or patty pan squash, chopped into small pieces
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

Garnishes:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into small thin rounds
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup finely chopped scallions or chives

*To clean leeks, trim off the dark green part and save for stock. Slice the white and pale green sections lengthwise and clean under cold running water making sure to remove all dirt hidden in the layers. Let dry and then chop.

Instructions

  1. In a large soup pot, heat the oil and butter over low heat. When sizzling add the leeks or onion, stir, cover and cook for 10 minutes over low heat.
  2. Remove the lid and add salt, pepper, thyme and squash. Stir to coat everything well and then raise the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes.
  3. Raise the heat to high and add the stock; bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover and cook for 20 minutes. The squash should be tender.
  5. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes or so.
  6. Puree in a blender, food processor, or use an immersion blender.
  7. Place in a large bowl or a tall pitcher and cool for at least 3 to 4 hours.
  8. To make the garnish: heat the oil in a large skillet over moderately high heat. Add zucchini and cook, without touching, for 3 minutes. Gently flip and cook for another 3 minutes.
  9. Season with salt and pepper and top the soup with the cooked zucchini and scallions or chives.

More favorite soup and garnish recipes:

  • Click here for winter soup and garnish recipes

This segment aired on August 24, 2022.

Related:

Kathy Gunst Twitter Resident Chef, Here & Now
Kathy Gunst is a James Beard Award-winning journalist and the author of 15 cookbooks.

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