We think of soup as a comforting, heartwarming, cold-weather food, but in the hottest days of summer, chilled soups are flavorful and (thank goodness) hydrating. That's not the only reason to make one, though. Some others: 1) Use up seasonal produce, 2) Impress guests with the brightly-colored flavorful concoctions, 3) Make dinner in ten minutes, and again, 4) Keep cool. Don't be overwhelmed by your choices--if you've ever made a smoothie before, you can make a puréed soup. The oil, texture, vegetables, and spices can separate this from anything you could pick up at a juice bar and enjoy with a spoon.
Use the ideas below and create your own flavor profile. The suggested fruits and vegetables are ones that work best as a puréed product.
- Vegetables - Beets, cucumbers, summer squash, tomatoes, white onions, bell peppers, green onions, celery, ginger, corn, avocado, scallions
- Greens - Spinach, arugula, basil, watercress
- Fruits - Mango, watermelon, peaches, cherries, strawberries, apples, papaya, cantaloupe
- Creaminess - Try adding almonds, silken tofu, or plain yogurt to the puree. Alternatively, use regular/vegan milk, or buttermilk, to add a richness to it.
- Thickness - Bread crumbs, nuts, and dried fruits (including sun-dried tomato) can help to thicken a very thin soup.
- Brightness (read: acidity) - Add fresh citrus juice or a dash of vinegar for a better, more complex flavor.
- Richness - Don't be afraid to add fats, from a drizzle of avocado oil to a cupful of olive oil. (Although go slowly and taste as you add, as you can't undo it.) Avoid coconut oil, which will harden if cold.
- A kick - Cayenne, minced jalapeños, garlic cloves, chili oil, harissa, sriracha, Tabasco, and paprika are all good options.
- Texture - Don't puree all of what you've got. Save half a vegetable and add it in at the end, pureeing just until it remains chunky, or serve with chopped hard-boiled egg, or pieces of crispy prosciutto, or more toasted nuts. Or croutons. Or grated cheese. Or fresh corn kernels.
That's a lot of information, but here are three recipes to help you get started: