Let There Be Cold Soup

When temperatures climb, humidity increases and energy dwindles, cold soup is an easy, tasty way to tame the torpor.

Cold soups are the perfect solution for summer hospitality: Set out platters of sausages and sliced smoked meats, rye bread with butter and a few large glass pitchers filled with refreshing cold soups. Prepared ahead of time and taken out of the refrigerator when the guests arrive, you have a full meal without a single drop of perspiration. Below are six cold soups from around the globe, all delicious and easy to make. All recipes serve six to eight.


Romans, Moors, Arabs and Spaniards all claim to hold the copyright for this famous Andalusian soup, which has been a standard on the Iberian Peninsula for the past 2,000 years. Originally, it was made from stale bread, garlic and olive oil. Tomatoes, which are so closely identified with it, were only added in recent centuries, after being brought from America. One can add or subtract from the ingredients with all sorts of variations, but it’s hard to conceive of this soup without fresh, juicy summer tomatoes.

2 thick slices white bread
with a crispy crust
1 kg. ripe summer tomatoes
1 medium cucumber
1 red pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled
juice of half a lemon
sea salt

Soak the bread in a bowl of water for 20 minutes, remove and squeeze well. Slit the skin at the bottom of each tomato and blanch for a minute in boiling water. Peel the tomatoes and remove the green core, slice and place in a food processor with a metal blade. Peel the cucumber, remove the stem and seeds from the pepper, crush the garlic and add all this to the tomatoes. Blend in the food processor until a thick mixture is obtained. Add the bread and lemon juice and process until smooth. Season with salt, taste and adjust seasoning. Chill the soup in the refrigerator for one hour.

Pour the soup into serving bowls, place an ice cube in the center of each bowl, drizzle on a few drops of olive oil and sprinkle with a little chopped hot green pepper. Serve with toasted bread and fresh celery stalks.

Ukrainian borscht

Anyone who comes from an Eastern European background will be familiar with the sight of soft-drink bottles filled with a reddish-purple liquid and put in the refrigerator to cool on Friday evenings. Anyone who has ever tasted it will tell you that Shabbat morning just isn’t the same without a bowl of borscht with bits of hard-boiled egg, sour cream, green onion and a shot of vodka.

3 large, or 4 medium, beets
1 small onion
1 tbsp. sugar
juice of half a lemon
2 containers sour cream
3-4 hard-boiled eggs
6 scallions
coarsely ground black pepper

Peel the beets and onion and place in a pot with two liters of water, the sugar and lemon juice. Simmer for half an hour, or until the beets are soft, but not mushy. Turn off the heat and set aside. When the liquid has cooled, remove the beets and onion, grate them coarsely and return to the pot. Mix well and refrigerate for several hours, preferably overnight. The liquid will change color to a deep, dark purple. Pour two ladles of soup, including the grated vegetables, in each serving bowl. In the center of each bowl place a heaping tablespoonful of sour cream topped with half a cold hard-boiled egg. Sprinkle on a little chopped scallion and black pepper. Serve with glasses of frozen vodka.

Carrot and ginger soup

The ginger and hot chili offset the sweetness of the carrots, and together they make for a wonderful way to cool off on a steamy August afternoon.

6-8 fresh carrots, rinsed and peeled
250 gr, pumpkin, peeled
1 heaping tbsp. fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp. hot chili pepper
sea salt
1/4 cup ‏(60 ml.‏) coconut milk
1/2 cup ‏(60 gr.‏) shelled pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup ‏(60 gr‏.) shelled roasted peanuts
half a lemon

Cut the carrots and pumpkin into large pieces and place in a wide pot. Add water to cover plus one centimeter, and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the carrots soften. Grate the ginger root into the soup, add the chili and a little salt and remove from the fire. Let the soup cool a bit and then stir with a whisk or a food processor to get a uniform mixture. Add the coconut milk while stirring, until the texture is soft and smooth. If the soup is too thick, add a little more coconut milk.
Chill overnight in the refrigerator. Serve in wide glasses with a few pumpkin seeds and roasted peanuts and few drops of fresh-squeezed lemon juice on top.

Tarator soup

Cold yogurt with cucumbers is the official refreshing dish of the Balkans, known as tzaziki in Greece, cacik in Turkey, and tarator in Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria. In each place it gets a local spin, but the holy trinity of yogurt, cucumbers and garlic is always maintained. This version includes a little seltzer for added lightness.

6-8 firm medium cucumbers
1 ltr. high-quality sheep’s-milk yogurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
sea salt
juice of half a lemon
1 cup cold seltzer

Dice the unpeeled cucumbers as finely as possible. Place in a strainer, sprinkle with salt and let stand for half an hour to bring out the liquid. Transfer the cucumber to a bowl and combine with the yogurt, garlic, salt and lemon; then refrigerate. Before serving, stir in the cold seltzer to thin the yogurt and heighten the fresh and slightly sour flavor.

Vichyssoise fennel soup

The famous vichyssoise, which takes its name from the French city of Vichy, is a thick, creamy soup made from leeks, potatoes, onions and cream, and is usually eaten cold. In this Mediterranean version, the onions have been replaced with fennel and the cream with white wine. The result is lighter and very refreshing.

2 leeks
5 medium fennel bulbs
2 small potatoes, peeled
2 ltr. water
3-4 bay leaves
sea salt
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup ‏(60 gr.‏) shelled walnuts

Cut the leeks, fennel and potatoes into large chunks and place in a pot. Add the water, bay leaves and a little salt and cook for 45 minutes, until the potatoes soften. Add the wine and turn off the heat. Mash the vegetables, using either a masher or food processor to obtain a thick, uniform texture. If the result is too thick, add a little more water.

Chill overnight in the refrigerator and serve with walnuts that have been toasted in the skillet with a little olive oil.

Peach and chardonnay soup

The ultimate summer soup: White peaches and cold chardonnay make a fantastic thirst quencher. Two ice cubes and a drizzle of grappa will make this soup go straight to your head, and make the summer heat suddenly tolerable.

6 soft white peaches
4 cups cold chardonnay wine

Blend the peaches with the wine in a blender with a steel blade, at high speed. Pour immediately into serving bowls or glasses, and add a couple of ice cubes to each.