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3 chilled soup recipes starring lemongrass, cucumber and even peaches

Fresh flavors and delicate techniques elevate summer soups.

Summer can be a sad season for those of us who are soup obsessed. A bowl of warm stock layered with flavor and swimming with hearty substance thrills a soup lover’s core. The Texas heat steals this joy.

The bright side of this conundrum is the opportunity to construct lovely and light-bodied cold soups. Summer’s plenty provides home cooks with produce abounding in concentrated flavors ready to be extracted and utilized in a satisfying liquid meal.

Cold soups tend to be pigeonholed — chop up raw vegetables, place into a blender and blitz. Rustic gazpacho! While this is a reasonable and delicious way to make a variety of cold soups, it is not the only one.

I cringe to suggest this to my fellow North Texans, but alas, here I go. Creating a concentrated stock with a base flavor is the way to build a light and flavorful cold soup. A one-hour simmer may seem like purgatory this time of year, but once completed the result is, well, heavenly.

Simmering water, onion and whatever vegetable you want to showcase is the easy non-recipe to build a foundation stock. Add an herb or spice to complement the vegetable, and your summer cold soup experiment is halfway complete. Reduce the stock until concentrated in flavor, salt to taste and strain. Pop that elixir into the fridge to chill, and summer soup is about finished!

The final touch to cold soup is adding texture and brightness. For cucumber soup, I add salted cucumbers, mint, dill and plain yogurt. In the corn soup I add corn straight from the cob along with coconut milk, cilantro, basil and fresh lime juice.

Summer can be soup season, but there is a time to gazpacho and a time to not. Let the day’s temperature and your cravings decide.

Rebecca White lives in Plano and blogs at apleasantlittlekitchen.com.

Chilled Lemongrass Coconut Corn Soup
Chilled Lemongrass Coconut Corn Soup

Chilled Lemongrass Coconut Corn Soup

6 ears of corn, divided use

1 onion, halved

2 lemongrass stalks, halved

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

10 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk

Juice of 2 limes

Fresh basil, torn

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Lime wedges, for serving

Remove the corn from three ears and set aside in the fridge, covered, to use later. Using a stand grater, grate the three ears in large bowl to collect corn milk.

Place the remaining three ears of corn into a large stock pot along with the three grated corn ears, onion, lemongrass, porcini and corn milk. Add the water. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce the heat to create a hearty simmer. After 50 minutes of simmering, add the coconut milk to the stock. Continue to cook for 10 minutes.

Taste the stock, and if it is concentrated in flavor to your liking, remove from heat. If more flavor needs to develop, continue to cook uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.

Remove the stock from heat and strain into a large sealable container. Cover and store in the fridge until chilled, about 8 hours.

Before serving, remove the corn stock and corn from the fridge. Add the lime juice into the corn stock. Whisk the stock to combine the lime juice and to break up any solidified coconut milk.

Place the chilled corn into cold serving bowls and strain the desired amount of corn stock over the corn. Top with fresh cilantro, basil and lime wedges. Serve cold.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Chilled Turmeric Cucumber Soup
Chilled Turmeric Cucumber Soup

Chilled Cucumber Turmeric Soup

2 pounds Persian cucumbers, divided use

1 onion, halved

8 garlic cloves, whole with peels intact

2 sprigs fresh dill

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided use

8 cups water

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

Plain yogurt, to top

Fresh dill, chopped, for topping

Fresh mint, chopped

Halve 1 pound of the cucumbers lengthwise (hot dog style).

In a large stock pot, place the halved cucumbers, onion, garlic, dill, turmeric, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Once the broth is reduced and concentrated in flavor, strain the cucumber broth into a sealable container. Stir in the vinegar and cover. Place into the fridge to chill, at least 8 hours.

One hour before serving, dice the additional 1 pound of cucumbers. Place the cucumbers into a bowl and top with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir to coat and chill in the fridge for one hour.

Place a kitchen towel on a cutting board. With a slotted spoon, remove the cucumbers from the fridge and place in one layer on the towel. Pat the cucumbers dry.

Add the desired amount of cucumbers into cold serving bowls. Place any remaining cucumbers back into the fridge to be used at a later time (they will remain crunchy for a day or two if properly salted and patted dry). Pour the cold cucumber broth over the cucumbers. Top each bowl with a dollop of yogurt and fresh dill and mint. Serve immediately, salt to taste.

Makes 4-5 servings.

Tomatillo Peach Gazpacho
Tomatillo Peach Gazpacho

Tomatillo Peach Gazpacho

Author note: Peaches can be easily peeled with a vegetable peeler. Note that this recipe requires a 24-hour cold set in the fridge to develop flavor and texture. Serving this soup before this 24-hour period is over will result in an underdeveloped gazpacho.

1 pound tomatillos, paper peels removed and quartered

2 peaches (about 3/4 pound), peeled and quartered

1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and quartered

1/2 bunch cilantro leaves

1 serrano pepper, seeded

1/4 cup diced onion

2 cups baguette, crusts removed and cubed

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons agave syrup

Juice of 2 limes

1/4 cup olive oil

Fresh peaches, sliced or diced, for topping

Fresh mint, for topping

In a food processor or a blender, blitz the tomatillos, peaches, cucumber, cilantro, serrano, onion, baguette, salt, agave and lime juice. Once combined, and with the food processor still running, pour in the olive oil. Continue to blitz until the gazpacho is smooth or to your desired consistency.

Pour the gazpacho into an airtight container and store in the fridge for 24 hours. Serve cold topped with diced peaches and mint.

Makes 4-6 servings.

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