Recipes for Chilled Summer Soups

Recipes for chilled summer soups, including cooking recipes for minty cuke, blueberry, and roasted red pepper soups, gazpacho and vegan harvest chili.


Think it's crazy to toss down a brimming bowl of soup in August? Anne Vassal doesn't.


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MOTHER's Kitchen column shares recipes for chilled summer soups. 

When I was growing up in Michigan, it was tough to beat the summer heat. Neither our house nor our car was air-conditioned because back then it seemed only rich people could afford to be sweat less. Then our grandparents installed an air conditioner in their bedroom, which motivated us to drop in more often. My sister and I would run up the stairs and throw ourselves down on the cool bed, exhaling a sigh of relief. If our grandmother ever minded our sweaty, smelly bodies on her white bedding she never expressed it. After we cooled down, we'd return downstairs to the screened-in porch to lounge on the rattan furniture where our grandmother would bring us freshly squeezed lemonade and homemade cookies. Warm breezes and cold drinks made the time pass too quickly until sunset forced our departure.

My summers continue to remain the same. You can find me lounging in a lawn chair under a shady tree with a large pile of cooking magazines. I'll be drinking iced herbal tea with mint and munching on fresh fruit. You won't see me swimming laps or chasing after tennis balls. An occasional bike ride will fill my exercise quota. This is why I like to make light and easy soups using garden produce. I prepare the soups early in the morning so that the rest of the day is free. I don't mind eating them a few days consecutively served with a vegetable sandwich or salad. So cook light with recipes for chilled summer soups, keep cool and enjoy the summer's produce.

Minty Cuke Soup Recipe

I love this chilled soup on a steamy, hot day, and it takes only minutes to make. If you don't have chives or mint in your garden, try dill or cilantro.

Put into a blender:
1 cup unsalted chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
3 small cucumbers, peeled
1/3 cup chopped chives
1/3 cup mint leaves (no stems)
2 large cloves, peeled and mashed
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 - 4 drops hot sauce

Blend until smooth and pour into a bowl. Whisk in:
2 cups plain yogurt 

Chill for at least two hours. Serve cold topped with the optional toppings:
Chopped green or yellow pepper
Chopped cucumber
Chopped tomato
Chopped chives

Blueberry Soup Recipe

Another easy, low-fat soup that's best eaten the same day. If you do have some leftover, whisk before eating the following day.

In a blender put the following:
1 cup orange juice
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Blueberries and mint sprigs for garnish (optional)

Blend well. Chill about two hours. Garnish each bowl with a few berries and a mint sprig. 

Roasted Red Pepper Soup Recipe

This hot but light soup uses up some of those red peppers in the garden and any herbs that you may want to use up. I like to keep roasted red peppers on hand in a plastic container for salads or sandwiches or lay them on a cookie sheet and freeze them. They'll keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Roasted Red Peppers Recipe

Cut as many red peppers as you like into quarters. Cut out the stems and seeds and place the peppers skin side up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place them under the oven broiler about four to five inches from the heat source. (You may have to stick a small metal baking pan underneath the pepper pan.) Broil for about three or four minutes, checking so they don't get too black. When they're mostly blackened, remove from the oven and let cool. Leave the skins on for storing in the refrigerator or freezer. Peel off most of the blackened skin when ready to use.

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 leek, white part only, rinsed and chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper, seeded and chopped (or 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper)
Freshly ground pepper
1 can (2 cups) unsalted chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
3/4 - 1 cup water
1/2 cup skim ricotta cheese

Topping: Chop any of these herbs or try a combination of basil, dill, chives, oregano, thyme, Italian parsley.  

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the onion and leek. Saute over medium high heat for a few minutes until they're softened, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic for about a minute, then add the rest of the ingredients except the water and cheese. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Pour into a blender and blend until smooth, adding water until it is the right consistency. (You may have to blend in batches, putting the soup in a large bowl then both batches back into the saucepan.) Blend in the ricotta cheese. Serve as is or simmer on the stove just until hot. (Don't let it boil.) Serve with chopped herbs.

Gazpacho Soup Recipe

I first started making this chilled soup after my mother gave me my first natural food cookbook back in the '70s, The Whole Earth Cookbook. This is a variation of that recipe. Only tomatoes fresh from the garden will do.

1/2 teaspoon jalapeno pepper, seeded (wear rubber gloves) and chopped
2 large cloves garlic
5 - 6 very ripe, medium tomatoes
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup unsalted chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 medium poblano or green pepper, cut into a quarter-inch dice
1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped into quarter-inch pieces (not too fat or the cucumber will have large seeds)
1 -2 tablespoons tomato paste

Possible toppings:
Green onion
Cilantro, parsley, chives
Lowfat yogurt

Fill a large saucepan three-quarters full with water and bring to a boil. Insert the whole tomatoes and turn off the heat. Let them set for about two minutes until the skins have softened. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove the cores and skins of the tomatoes and chop coarsely. I use a food processor because I don't like large chunks of tomato but you can also chop them into little pieces by hand. Mince the jalapeno and garlic in the food processor. Add all the ingredients up to and including the ground pepper. Pulse the mixture until the tomatoes are in little pieces but not pureed. Pour into a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir in the tomato paste, adding more if the soup isn't thick enough. Check to see if you'd like more salt or hot pepper. Chill for a least one hour and serve with toppings if you like.

Note: This soup is best eaten the same day, but it can be made ahead of time. I add the cucumber an hour or so before serving because the salt extracts water from the cucumber and makes the soup too watery.

Harvest Chili Recipe (Vegan)

Don't let all the ingredients scare you—it's really ready in no time. Too much chili? Freeze some for a later day.

1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (wear rubber gloves)
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes in puree
I six-ounce can tomato paste
1 27-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4 cups water
1 cup TVP *—optional
1 small eggplant, cut into a half-inch dice
3 medium sweet peppers, (red, green, or yellow) cut into a half-inch dice
3 medium tomatoes, skinned and chopped into half-inch chunks
2 cups uncooked corn, cut off the cobs

Topping ideas: yogurt or "lite" sour cream, grated cheddar or jack cheese, chopped tomato, chopped red or green onion, cilantro.  

In a large soup pot, heat the oil and add the garlic, jalapeno, and onions. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is limp. Add the rest of the ingredients except the corn. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check to see if there's enough water, add the corn, and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Serve in bowls with an assortment of toppings.

*Texturized vegetable protein (T.V.P.) is a high protein meat substitute with a texture similar to hamburger. The soy product can be purchased at most health food stores.