Cold Soups for Summer:
Gazpacho and Beyond
by Kate Heyhoe
Some cultures long ago created cold soups that are now classics, like gazpacho and vichyssoise. We've got recipes for them as well as for more unusual chillers like Korean Fruit Soup, Chilled Beet and Cantaloupe Soup, Avocado-Tequila Soup, Watermelon Gazpacho, and my personal favorite, Iced Korean Cucumber Soup.
We usually think of soup as a steaming, hot way to warm up. But soup is a good way to cool down—cold soup, that is. When summer temperatures soar, or in places where temperatures are almost always near the century mark, a chilled soup acts as a refreshing heat antidote. While many places enjoy cold fruit soups for a starter or dessert, chilled savory soups showcase summer's best produce, from crisp cucumbers and peppers to fresh herbs and lusty spices.
Want to know more about the world's most famous cold soups? Read on...
- Gazpacho—Spain is famous for their many types of gazpacho, a cold soup that varies from region to region. Originally it was made solely of bread, olive oil, vinegar, water, and garlic, and dates back to Roman influence in the 17th Century. Later, field workers needing a modest lunch and instant relief from the fiery heat added tomatoes and peppers, arrivals from the New World, transforming it into today's classic red gazpacho. Some regions of Spain serve a white gazpacho made from almonds and melons, and others make green gazpacho from herbs and vegetables.
- Korean Cucumber Soup—The phrase "cool as a cucumber" is taken literally in Korea. The mountains of North Korea are bitterly cold in winter, but the summers in South Korea can be blisteringly hot. To cool off, they make a chilled soup of slivered cucumbers, green onions, and sesame seeds, in a bowl of chicken broth, soy sauce, and tangy vinegar, served with actual ice cubes floating in the bowls. The ice keeps the soup chilled and helps the cucumbers stay crisp and crunchy. It's like a thirst-quenching salad.
- Vichyssoise—This cold creamy, potato and leek soup hails from France. The vegetables cook in chicken stock and are then pureed with heavy cream to a smooth consistency. The chilled soup is then served with a final garnish of freshly snipped chives. It's refreshing and more substantial than other cold soups because of the potatoes and dairy products. When served hot, the soup is known as Potage Parmentier. The Portugeuese version of cold potato soup features the green herb cilantro instead of chives.
- Cold Beet Borscht—Borscht, the strikingly magenta colored soup of Russia and Eastern Europe, is made from beets and is served hot in winter and chilled in summer, spiked with vinegar and lemon juice, and topped with a dollop of tart sour cream.
- Cucumber-Yogurt Soup—Variations of cold soup made with yogurt and cucumber stretch from Eastern Europe across the Middle East, wherever yogurt is a main dairy product and hot weather prevails. In Russia, Dovga soup consists of yogurt, spinach, and sorrel, and can be served hot or cold. In the Middle East, Greece, and Turkey, cold yogurt soups feature cucumbers and garlic. Senegalese Soup, a cold curry flavored soup, may have a foundation in West Africa, though its origins are unclear; the addition of cream or yogurt suggest colonial influences.
- Sour Cherry Soup—Fruit soups may seem odd, but in Scandinavia, Hungary, and other parts of Eastern Europe, tart cherries are pureed and mixed with cherry juice, ice water, vinegar, and sour cream for a refreshing first course. Different types of fruit soups, ranging from apples to oranges, are served as either a first course or a dessert in France, Latvia, Denmark, Sweden, and other parts of Europe.
Cold Soups from Around the Globe
- Chilled Beet and Cantaloupe Soup
Unusual and refreshing, this soup even appeals to people who don't like beets.
- Korean Fruit Soup
This fruit soup is a gorgeous feast of colors, fragrance, and flavors. The fruit is laced with essences of aromatic herbs, spices, and nuts. It should he prepared several hours ahead, or even the day before.
- Iced Korean Cucumber Soup
Just before serving, add the ice cubes, to have a very cold, icy cold—much colder than just chilled—soup. The ice cubes also function to firm up the cucumbers and make them crunchy. It contains no cream or fat, and the crispness of the raw matchstick cucumbers gives it a refreshing texture.
- Cold Avocado-Tequila Soup
Are you tired of the same old guacamole but still in love with avocados? This soup is a wonderful alternative.
The classic cold potato soup, always in style.
- Senegalese Lemon Soup
Curry, lemon and yogurt shine in this soup, served cold or hot.
- Watermelon Gazpacho
This version of gazpacho tackles summer with a classic heat antidote: watermelon.
A variation on gazpacho with a small amount of water and far fewer vegetables, heightened by extra virgin olive oil and a shock of fine sherry wine vinegar, with ribbons of serrano ham and cubed whites of hard-cooked eggs, for a stunning visual contrast.
- Gazpacho Verde
Cooling, tart and tangy, with a base of green vegetables and herbs.
- Green Gazpacho
Showcase those under-ripe tomatoes in this delicious, gloriously colored Mexican variation on a Spanish theme.
- The Gazpacho Collection: Red, Gold, Pink, and Green Variations
Lemons and Other Functional Foods
We hear a lot about functional foods these days—foods that claim to bear health-promoting properties, as in probiotic-packed yogurts or vitamin-enriched products. But plain-Jane, unadulterated foods like lemons have played landmark historical roles in combating deadly illnesses.
During the Age of Sail, in the 1600s and 1700s, the countries of Europe amassed huge navies and explored the globe by sea, embarking on voyages that would last months before docking at land. In the 18th Century, Great Britain ruled the waves with its impressive navy, but not without substantial battles against France's armada under Napoleon and other European navies. Yet despite these seafaring wars, more than half the men on these ships died not from battle, but from a simple but potentially deadly vitamin deficiency, known as scurvy. In fact, in the early years of exploration, scurvy killed more sailors than all the shipwrecks and sea battles combined.
The sailors developed scurvy because their seafaring diets lacked Vitamin C, found in fruits (especially citrus), vegetables, and other fresh foods. Once the British sailors were given lemons and limes to eat (giving rise to the nickname of "limeys"), the incidence of scurvy declined.
Sailors weren't the only ones to suffer from scurvy. During the California Gold Rush of the 1800s, miners developed scurvy from working for long periods underground without fresh foods. This caused a demand for lemons, giving rise to the California citrus industry. But it wasn't until the early 1900s that vitamin C was discovered as the true source, not the fresh fruit itself, which prevented the disease. Today we know that one lemon's juice provides one-third the daily requirement of Vitamin C.
Throughout the world, people suffer from various vitamin deficiencies. Poor diets can happen anywhere, not just in places of poverty. Even when they think they're eating well, and have the ability to eat a balanced diet, some people may not get all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients their bodies need.
Besides scurvy, some of the world's most puzzling illnesses have been caused solely by dietary deficiencies, such as:
- Rickets—Children with a deficiency in Vitamin D develop rickets, which causes softening and weakening of the bones. Calcium (found in milk) and sunlight (which helps the body synthesize Vitamin D) can prevent rickets.
- Pellagra—When the body lacks sufficient niacin, one of the B-vitamins, the result is known as the three Ds: dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia. Pellagra occurs in people who rely on corn as a large part of their diets, as was once common in the South. The condition is rare today, because cornmeal and other corn products are enriched with niacin.
- Beriberi—This is a deficiency in thiamin, another B-vitamin. It first appeared in Asia, among people who ate mostly polished white rice, in which the bran layer that contains thiamin is removed. Beriberi causes nerve damage leading to paralysis, often crippling its victims. Today, rice in most nations is enriched with thiamin.
As Hippocrates espoused nearly 2,500 years ago: "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." Or: eat well and balanced, be well and balanced.
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Copyright © 2010, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page modified August 2010