Summer isn’t exactly peak soup season. Not that there’s ever a bad time for a blazing bowl of ramen or pho (and in fact, steamy bowls of soup can actually be cooling, counterintuitive as it seems). But if you’re craving more refreshing meals, you can still chow down on a bowl of gazpacho or borscht—or any of the world’s other chilled soups!
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Let’s get this cold soup train rolling with an Eastern European favorite: borscht. While there are many varieties of borscht, we are talking about the particularly creamy and cool summer version with beets and dill. This borscht recipe includes lemon juice, scallions, and yogurt or sour cream, as well, creating a bright, veggie-forward soup to enjoy as a lighter main dish served with crusty bread, or as a side.
Polish Chlodnik is similar, but tangier with the addition of radishes, kefir, and sauerkraut or pickle juice. Both the Polish recipe and this Lithuanian Šaltibarščiai recipe include cucumbers and should be served with dill and halved hard-boiled eggs. If you have an affinity for a particular Eastern European country, you can likely find another regional version of this cold beet soup to try out!
Related Reading: Big-Batch No-Cook Recipes for Summer
Though Lisa Simpson “made enough gazpacho for all,” it didn’t go over too well at her family barbecue. Don’t get hung up on how the citizens of Springfield perceive this chilled, tomato soup; give it a try yourself with this Real Spanish Gazpacho recipe. Ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, onion, and green pepper are blended with oil, vinegar, spices, and also bread, to create a tangy and slightly acidic flavor.
For a fresh and summery, albeit not-so-authentic twist, try our Watermelon Gazpacho recipe. (Use the watermelon rind for a pickled garnish; delicious, and helps fight food waste!) And, if you’d like to stray even farther from the classic, you can try our Cucumber and Green Grape Gazpacho recipe, which ditches the tomatoes entirely. It’s good in every permutation—so check out even more gazpacho recipe ideas.
Let’s head back east for a different type of Russian soup, with this Okroshka recipe. With ham, potatoes, and hard-boiled eggs, this is a hearty soup that requires no added butter or oil. Like the borscht recipes, this soup uses dill and tangy ingredients—specifically vinegar and sour cream. And, as with most recipes, you can substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream for a bit less fat and a little more protein.
Conversely, you can embrace fat, calories, and everything creamy and wonderful with a French style of cold soup, using Julia Child’s Vichyssoise recipe. Potatoes and leeks are made more delectable with chives and heavy cream, all blended smooth and served chilled or at room temperature. Remember to use caution when blending hot liquids; if using a standing blender, add a little soup at a time and hold a towel over the top!
From the Miyazaki region of Japan, you can try this next cold soup which is served over hot rice, highlighting a mixture of temperatures and textures. This Hiyashijiru (Chilled Cucumber Sesame Soup) recipe uses some ingredients you might be a little unfamiliar with, including dashi, shiso, and shichimi. Dashi is a Japanese stock, which can be made using this recipe or purchased in powder form at Asian grocery stores or online. Shiso is spicy, cinnamon-y plant used in Asian cooking, also more likely found at an Asian grocery store. As for the shichimi, you can make this blend of spices yourself using our Shichimi Togarashi recipe.
Brazilian Black Bean Soup
Finally, we will head to South America for a soup which can be served hot or cold. Coconut milk makes this Brazilian Black Bean Soup recipe creamy and delicious when blended with the onion, garlic, jalapeño, and black bean base. Garnish with cotija cheese, green onion, and cilantro, and you have a soup that works well all year long!