Food & Drink

Too cool for winter: Don’t get steamed by summer soup

AKRON, Ohio — It’s hard to imagine soup other than in a steaming bowl.

But cold soup, once you get used to the idea, can be a refreshing change of pace for a sweltering summer day.

Carla Snyder, who co-wrote “300 Sensational Soups” with Meredith Deeds, said lots of people are familiar with gazpacho, or vichyssoise, which is associated with fancy French cuisine. Beyond that, cold soups are still a bit of a mystery to many, she said.

Cold soups typically showcase fresh vegetables or fruits and are easy to put together, often requiring no cooking. A cold soup is perfect for a light summer meal, but also works well as an appetizer or dessert.

Chef Rodney Hunt of Robert J. Events & Catering in Akron, said he serves cold soup as an appetizer, presenting it in a shooter glass or cordial glass.

He said a small shot of soup is perfect for the food trend of small plates, and makes a surprising appetizer.

“Chilled soup is a little more refreshing,” he said.

For parties at home, Snyder said, using shot glasses, perhaps ones that have been collected over the years from traveling, is a fun way to display a collection of vacation memorabilia.

When preparing cold soups, always begin with the freshest produce, because it will provide the backbone for the soup.

“With summer soups, the quality of the ingredients is really key,” Snyder said.

With melon soups, for example, a watery, bland melon will produce a soup of the same quality.

Soups can be pureed in a blender or food processor, or with an immersion blender.

Snyder said a traditional blender will inject more air into a puree and make for a smoother, more velvety soup.

Cold soups typically require more seasoning than hot soups, because they aren’t being heated, which helps to release the flavors of herbs and spices. Snyder said some cold soups are made hot and then chilled. When cooking, they may taste just right, but after chilling, their flavors may not be as intense, so it’s always a good idea to taste them cold and adjust salt, pepper and other spices.

Many cold soups call for the addition of heavy cream or sour cream, and Snyder said it’s OK to lighten them up with yogurt or a lighter cream. However, taking out fat is another reason to increase the spice and seasoning.

“Bump up the flavors a little bit when you cut the fat, because you cut back on the soup’s ability to carry flavor forward,” she said.

Hunt said he likes to add spice to fruit soups for an unexpected flavor twist. He pairs mango with jalapeño and cantaloupe with Tabasco sauce for combinations that are sweet and spicy.