If you think nourishing soup is just for winter, think again. Summer soups satisfy us in lighter ways and make use of the fresh produce piled high at the farmers market.
And on those extra-hot days when the last thing you want to do is fire up the stove, some of them require nothing but a knife and a blender to get them to the table.
Cold Cherry and Tomato Soup
1 1/2 pounds (about 6) plum tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters
1 small (4 ounces) green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
18 ounces fresh sweet cherries, pitted, plus several halved and pitted cherries for garnish
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic
6 tablespoons sherry vinegar, or more to taste
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste (up to 3 cups)
2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons salt, to taste
Working in batches if necessary, combine the tomatoes, bell pepper, cherries, sugar, lemon juice, garlic and sherry vinegar in a blender and puree into a thick liquid. The mixture will turn a lovely pink color. Taste for acidity, which will vary according to the sweetness of the tomatoes and cherries, and add a little vinegar if needed.
Add the oil and salt to taste and re-blend. Transfer to a storage container, straining it through a fine-mesh strainer if you want a perfectly smooth soup, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Serve cold, garnished with the fresh cherry halves.
NOTES: The original recipe calls for 2 cups of cherry puree, which is readily available online only. We’ve substituted fresh cherries, lemon juice and a little sugar for the harder-to-find puree. The recipe also called for 3 cups of olive oil, but we thought 1 cup worked beautifully.
To retain the soup’s light-red hue, use a pale-colored sherry vinegar. A darker one will taste fine, but it will make the soup look brown.
MAKE AHEAD: The soup needs to chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.
NUTRITION Per 1/2-cup serving: 210 calories, 1 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 18 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 390 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugar
Adapted from a recipe by chef Jose Andres of ThinkFoodGroup.
Beet and Tomato Bisque
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (1 cup)
1 medium clove garlic, minced (1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound (4 small) red beets, peeled
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut crosswise in half
28 ounces canned plum tomatoes, drained
4 1/2 cups no-salt-added vegetable or chicken broth
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 or 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons minced parsley
Sour cream or yogurt, for garnish
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and salt, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened. Add the beets, carrots, tomatoes, broth and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 1 hour, adjusting the heat so the liquid is just barely bubbling around the edges.
Use an immersion (stick) blender, and blend briefly to a coarse puree. (Alternatively, If you use a blender, transfer in batches; remove the center knob from the lid and cover the opening with a towel to contain splash-ups.)
Stir in the pepper, lemon juice, parsley and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Serve hot or cold, garnished with sour cream or yogurt.
NOTES: This soup is a looker: beautifully crimson and quite thick. It can be served hot or cold. From Debbie Amster, a holistic health coach, cooking teacher and healthful-foods caterer based in Olney, Md.
NUTRITION Per 1-cup serving (using vegetable broth): 140 calories, 3 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 580 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 12 g sugar
Cold Yellow Zucchini Soup
6 thin leeks, chopped (1 pound; about 5 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 pound yellow zucchini, sliced (about 3 cups; see headnote)
1 medium white boiling potato, coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
No-salt-added vegetable or chicken broth or water (about 4 cups; see headnote)
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped dill, for garnish
Fill a bowl with cold water and add the chopped leeks; soak them briefly to dislodge any grit. Use a strainer to scoop the leeks out of the water, and use paper towels to pat them dry.
Heat the oil or butter in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt; cook until the leeks have softened, about 6 minutes. Add the zucchini and potato, then add enough broth to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat, cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender, adjusting the heat so that the liquid is barely bubbling at the edges.
Use an immersion (stick) blender and blend to a thick puree. (Alternatively, if you use a regular blender, transfer in batches; remove the center knob from the lid and cover the opening with a towel to contain splash-ups.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Allow the soup to cool, then transfer to a storage container and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours. When ready to serve, garnish with sprigs of dill.
NOTES: A potato in the mix helps create a thick, silky soup. Make sure to use yellow zucchini, not yellow summer squash; it has a more vibrant color. If you choose to make this vegetarian, use a light-colored rather than a darker vegetable broth, or the soup will look muddy; or use water.
MAKE AHEAD: The soup needs to be refrigerated for at least 3 hours before serving. From Debbie Amster, a holistic health coach, cooking teacher and healthful-foods caterer based in Olney, Md.
NUTRITION Per 1-cup serving (using olive oil and vegetable broth): 110 calories, 2 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 180 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar
French-Style Summer Pistou
4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup carrot, cut into small dice
1/2 cup onion, cut into small dice
1/2 cup celery, cut into small dice
1/2 cup fennel, cut into small dice
1 small leek, white and light-green parts cut in half lengthwise, then each half cut crosswise into thin slices to yield 1/2 cup and soaked briefly in water to remove grit
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup diced fresh or good-quality canned tomatoes
1/2 cup dry sherry (optional)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
12 stems thyme, tied with kitchen twine into a bouquet
8 cups vegetable broth or water
2 cups mixed summer beans or peas of your choice, each variety cooked separately until just tender (possibilities include shell beans, fresh lima beans, fava beans, green or yellow beans, peas, snap peas)
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
Cracked black pepper
9 tablespoons prepared pesto
Heat 21/2 tablespoons of the oil in a 4-quart nonreactive soup pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions, celery, fennel, leek and garlic; cook gently, stirring frequently, for 6 to 8 minutes, until tender and translucent. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Add the sherry, if using, and the sherry vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pot to dislodge any browned bits. Cook until the liquid in the pot has reduced by half. Add the thyme bouquet and the broth or water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium or medium-low (as needed) and cook for 20 minutes, adjusting the heat so that the liquid is barely bubbling at the edges.
Just before serving, add the cooked beans and peas; bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat; discard the thyme bouquet and stir in the basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into individual bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon of pesto and drizzle equally with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.
NUTRITION Per 1-cup serving: 220 calories, 5 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 390 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar
From chef Tracy O’Grady of Willow restaurant in Arlington, Va.