By the time spring and early summer’s warmth arrives, we all want to chill out in the kitchen. It’s time for a break from simmering casseroles and bubbling stockpots turning out rich saucy dinners. But bidding farewell to more complex cooking doesn’t mean abandoning elegance. Chilled soups are the perfect showcase for a kitchen garden’s crisp flavors and bright colors. It’s time to revisit this culinary classic with a few vegan-friendly cold soup recipes inspired by the urban garden.
Vichyssoise, France’s satiny smooth potato-leek soup has long held the standard for posh cold soups. But when Sheila Lukins and Julie Rosso released the Silver Palate cookbook in 1982, their gazpacho recipe revolutionized nouvelle cuisine for home cooks. This earthy, garlicky gazpacho started appearing at gourmet dinner parties, and chefs experimented with other cold fruit-based soups. Traditional and vegan cold soups showed up on menus as refreshing first-course “amuse-bouches” and as palate cleansers.
Today’s cold soups feature hyper-fresh garden-to-table produce, making them very vegan-friendly. Where the long slow winter braise is designed to break down fibers in meat and root vegetables, the short cooking time for a cold soup preserves the color, flavor and texture of a perfectly ripe tomato or pea tendril.
Chilled soup demands the freshest, ripest ingredients, so choose perfect produce and treat it kindly. Foods served cold tend to have a more muted flavor than those served warm, so don’t be afraid to top off these soups with powerful garnishes—fresh herbs, flavored salts, chili paste or a squeeze of lime.
It must be said that not every diner expects a cold soup – vegan or not. It can be a shock to sit down to a bowl of something creamy, and presumably warm, only to be surprised by something cool and tingly. The solution is to create the right expectation up front. We eat with our eyes first, so serve a chilled soup in an appropriate setting that highlights its fresh nature.
Forget the rule that says you need to eat soup from a bowl with a spoon. Instead, try serving a chilled vegan soup in a champagne flute to sip as a sophisticated starter. Pour a dessert soup into a footed compote or antique coupe cocktail glass and scoop it up with tiny demitasse or cream spoons. Surprise guests with gazpacho served in bowls nestled into beds of plated crushed ice. Test a few options beforehand to see which works best.
Colorful vegan cold soups can satisfy a family looking for a quick, light dinner, but can also surprise guests at a sophisticated dinner party or brunch. Our recipes include the beloved gazpacho that started it all—but with a twist; a vivid soup with green watercress and peas; and an Asian-inspired coconut cream and carrot blend. Finish any spring or summer meal with our creamy blackberry dessert soup. As elegant takes on flavorful classics, these soups are sure to keep you cool.
This story was originally written by Phaedra Hise for Virginia Living magazine. Click here for recipes.