We're still a few months away from peak soup season—I'm not usually in the mood for a steaming bowl of stew when the temperatures are still in the 80s. But not all soups are cold-weather affairs, and a light, chilled soup can be super refreshing on a hot day. Our favorite summery soups show off the season's best fresh produce: corn, tomatoes, squash, and more. Some don't even need to be cooked, which is especially appealing on a scorching day. From classic and not-so-classic gazpacho, to corn chowder and Korean noodles, we've rounded up 12 of our favorite soup recipes perfect for the waning days of summer.
Let's start with the most refreshing of all summer soups: gazpacho. This recipe has a classic ingredient list: tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, bell pepper, and white bread. But things get a little unusual when it comes to technique. To get the most flavor out of the vegetables we turn to cryo-blanching, which is a fancy way of saying that we freeze and thaw the veggies to break them down and release their flavorful juices.
Cryo-blanching makes the best gazpacho, but it also takes at least an hour. The good news is that if you want a bowl of soup faster than that you can skip that step. Salting the vegetables and letting them drain onto the bread makes for a soup that isn't quite as flavorful, but comes pretty darn close.
While tomato-based gazpachos are most common, there are a variety of similar no-cook soups that use different ingredients. To make ajo blanco (sometimes called white gazpacho) you keep the bread, but blend it up with blanched almonds and garlic. Garnish with green seedless grapes.
Cantaloupe Gazpacho With Crispy Prosciutto
This gazpacho variation is inspired by the classic combination of cantaloupe and prosciutto. The melon makes the soup pleasantly fruity, but we keep the cucumber and onion to make sure it doesn't turn into a dessert. Oven-crisped prosciutto adds a crispy, salty finishing touch.
No-Cook Blender Tomato Soup
We're cheating a little here—this recipe is cooked, but rather than using the stove we get all the heat we need from a Vitamix. The high-powered blender cooks the onions and tomatoes, and white bread and olive oil make the soup luxuriously creamy without any dairy. Keep this recipe in mind all year—the soup's good hot or cold.
Cooked and Chilled Soups
Mexican-Style Gazpacho With Grilled Shrimp
This version of gazpacho differs from the classic in two big ways—not only do we include tomatillos and jalapeños, but we grill them (and the other veggies) to give the soup a pronounced smoky flavor. We also like to keep the gazpacho pretty chunky and top it with grilled shrimp to make it more filling.
The Best Corn Chowder
Sometimes making a cold soup is as simple as taking one meant to be served hot and eating it straight out of the fridge. That's the case with this chowder, which we give an intense corn flavor by throwing the cobs into the stock. Along with potatoes, the corn cobs release enough starch to thicken the soup beautifully.
Pressure Cooker Corn Soup
We make our corn chowder by scraping the milk from corncobs, but if you have a pressure cooker you can let that do all the work for you. Throw the cobs into the pressure cooker with the kernels and you'll end up with a thick soup with a more intense corn flavor than one thickened with potatoes or dairy.
Easy, Summery Zucchini-Basil Soup
Zucchini is a watery vegetable, and while that's a challenge for preparations like sautés, it's perfect for soup. It only takes a little cooking to break the squash down into a fresh, brightly colored soup. To preserve the zucchini's flavor we make the soup with water instead of stock and add mild leeks instead of onions.
Asparagus and Tarragon Velouté (Dairy-Free Creamy Asparagus Soup)
We love the texture of a creamy soup, but the problem is that dairy fat covers up the flavor of fresh vegetables. Our solution is velouté, a French technique that uses a roux to thicken a soup with little to no dairy. Leaving out the cream lets the fresh asparagus and anise-scented tarragon in this recipe shine.
Creamy Lettuce Soup
A couple times a year I buy a head of lettuce to make a sandwich, use a few leaves, then watch as the rest wilts away in the fridge. Thanks to this recipe that's no longer a problem, though—lettuce past its prime is wonderful cooked up into a soup with aromatics and stock. It's even as green as a fresh head of lettuce thanks to a handful of parsley.
Make-Ahead Pea Soup With Shallot, Lemon, and Parmesan
This light, delicate soup is incredibly refreshing thanks to sweet peas (fresh or frozen work) and blanched lemon rind. We cook the soup just long enough to bring it to a boil so that the peas don't lose their fresh flavor, then blend with grated Parmesan cheese to add a little body.
Chilled Summer Squash Soup With Yogurt, Mint, and Sourdough Croutons
My local supermarket has been putting squash on sale a lot lately, and there's only so much sautéed squash I can eat. Fortunately I can turn to this recipe, which turns three pounds of it into a tangy, earthy soup. We start by stewing the squash with garlic and onions, then blend it with yogurt and fresh mint.
Cold Korean Noodle Soup With Asian Pear and Cucumber (Mul Naengmyun)
If your knowledge of Korean food ends at bibimbap and barbecue, you're missing out. The country is home to some delicious noodle dishes, like this summery soup of buckwheat noodles in a sweet-tart, gelatin-thickened broth. We also add poached beef to the soup and garnish with Asian pear, cucumber, and pickled radish.