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—and 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 noodle soup, we've rounded up 15 of our favorite soup recipes perfect for the hottest 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 best-known, there's a variety of similar no-cook soups that use a different set of ingredients. To make ajo blanco (sometimes called "white gazpacho"), we keep the bread, but blend it up with blanched almonds and garlic. Garnish with green seedless grapes.
Watermelon Gazpacho With Calabrian-Chili Crema
On the most sweltering days of summer, adding juicy watermelon to the traditional gazpacho mix of tomato and cucumber seems to make the dish extra refreshing. Using toasted almonds instead of bread to thicken the soup keeps it especially light, while a drizzle of Mexican crema spiked with hot Calabrian chilies balances out the sweetness of the fruit.
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 keeping the usual cucumber and onion ensures it doesn't turn into a dessert. Oven-crisped prosciutto adds a savory, 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 actually 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 long—the soup's good hot or cold.
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 the 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 it do all the work for you. Throw the cobs into the pressure cooker with the kernels, and you'll get 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, which makes it a challenge for preparations like sautés, but it's perfect for soup. It takes only 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 dairy fat that's usually used to achieve that creaminess tends to cover up the flavor of fresh vegetables. Our solution is velouté, a French technique that uses a roux, and little to no dairy, to thicken a soup. Leaving out the cream lets the grassy 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 accidentally leave the rest to wilt away in the fridge. Thanks to this recipe, that's no longer a problem—lettuce past its prime is surprisingly tasty when cooked up with aromatics and stock into a soup, then served either hot or cold. A handful of parsley keeps the color as vibrantly green as a fresh head of lettuce, too.
Make-Ahead Pea Soup With Shallot, Lemon, and Parmesan
This light, delicate soup is far more refreshing than the thick, hammy variety of pea soup that's more traditional, thanks to sweet peas (fresh or frozen peas 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. This one is good either warm or chilled.
Chilled Summer Squash Soup With Yogurt, Mint, and Sourdough Croutons
This time of year, I often find summer squash on sale at my local supermarket, but there's only so much sautéed squash I can eat. Fortunately, I can always turn to this recipe, which turns three pounds of the stuff 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 barbecued short ribs, you're missing out. Among the many delicious noodle dishes the country is known for, this summery soup of buckwheat noodles in a sweet-tart, gelatin-thickened broth stands out. We add poached beef to the soup, making it a more filling meal, and garnish it with Asian pear, cucumber, and pickled radish.
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