Ahh…the sheer joy of a perfectly seasoned chilled soup on a sizzling summer’s day. When you think about it, there’s actually something sort of sexy about cold soups. Their quality relies on the ripest, most flavorful fruits and vegetables, often pureed and presented with their inherent, lush flavors shining through. Because ingredients are mostly au naturel, the colors are rich and vibrant. . .boldly inviting you to dip right in. This summer, go ahead and take the plunge.
Typically, when people think of cold soups, they picture a variation of gazpacho, the brilliant Spanish staple with its ripe tomato base, traditionally pureed with bread, olive oil, a zip of vinegar, fresh lemon, herbs and cucumber. No doubt, this gorgeous concoction hits the spot when the temperature spikes. It’s unbelievably good for you (lycopene in spades), and if you have an afternoon of hiking or biking ahead, a generous bowl of gazpacho certainly won’t weigh you down.
Another classic cold soup is silky, rich vichyssoise—the creamy potato and leek soup kissed with fresh chives. Word is, Anthony Bourdain—one of cable television’s most macho chefs—says vichyssoise ignited his passion for food when he first tasted in on a transatlantic voyage on the Queen Mary when he was just 9 years old.
But beyond the classics, the pantheon of chilled soups based on ripe summer produce is growing all the time. It’s interesting, then, that Stein Eriksen Lodge Chef Zane Holmquist says although his repertoire includes almost 40 versions of cold soups, “They’re generally less popular than you’d think. They tend to be more popular among women and younger guests.”
So, if you aren’t already a convert, you’re missing out. Make this your summer to expand your soup horizons, and don’t worry about adjusting that old rhythm that includes blowing on the soup to cool it off. Just dip your spoon and enjoy—or sip from a cop or thermos. Here’s a sampling of some of the creative cold soup offerings you’ll find on Park City menus this summer. . .
Virginia Rainey is a Salt Lake-based freelance writer with a focus on good food and the people who produce it.
Cold Comfort Soups appeared in the Summer 2008 issue of Park City Magazine. www.parkcitymagazine.com