Photography by Andre Baranowski
The antidote to hot? Cold. Yes, a steaming bowl of soup is the ultimate belly-warming comfort food in the season of frozen fingers and chilly cheeks, but in summer, soup is a different dish altogether, the ultimate refreshing smoothie in a bowl. Filled with flavor and chock-a-block with plucked-from-the-garden fruits and veggies, cold soup has an aromatic charm all its own, making for a welcome summer treat. From traditional gazpacho to a sweet and spicy watermelon broth, you’ll find there’s no fresher summer dish than a bowl of cold comfort.
For Matt Hutchins, the Tallahassee, Florida-born chef at Birdsall House (970 Main St, Peekskill 914-930-1880) and a cold-soup aficionado (“Cold soup on a hot day is a beautiful thing,” he says), it’s all about mixing flavors to awaken your senses. Expect a chilled melon soup—summer melon is sinfully delicious in season—made with Champagne, papaya, cantaloupe, and honeydew, garnished with a raspberry, or sometimes mint or tapioca pearls. There are many variations, and this Southern boy is still experimenting, meaning that, this month, you might also find a chilled plum soup. This restaurant is big into local, seasonal cuisine, so it’s all about being surprised.
Gazpacho is a seasonal favorite and at Caravela (53 N Broadway, Tarrytown 914-631-1863), you’ll find this Spanish tomato soup alive with flavor and antioxidants. The secret is in cooking it the day before, so the flavors have time to blend together. The recipe is fairly standard (think cucumber, red pepper, sherry vinegar, green pepper, chicken stock, ketchup, heavy cream, cilantro) but sensationally satisfying.
Who says soup can’t be served after your main course? The chilled dessert peach soup at Plates (121 Myrtle Blvd, Larchmont 914-834-1244) takes advantage of the ripe, refreshing flavor of this delicious fruit to full effect, adding cooling mint, lemon thyme, sugar, water, and a little fizz from Prosecco. Add some vanilla ice cream and you’re in soup heaven.
A lot of time and effort goes into the nectarine soup with foie gras croutons at Chiboust Bistro + Bakery (14 Main St, Tarrytown 914-703-6550). First, the nectarines are peeled, pitted, and cooked with vanilla bean and a little agave syrup, fresh thyme, and water, then strained, chilled, and adjusted with lemon. It’s like putting your spoon in a little slice of the sun.
The creamy Chilled Delight from Virú (1727 Central Ave, Yonkers 914-620-6142) cries out “tropics” with its bite of pepper and lime. Yes, it’s a rich first course, but oh so worth it for its invigorating flavor. This highly addictive dish, served in a highball glass, gets its taste from diced shrimp mixed with avocados, milk, dill mayo, minced onions, cilantro, and rocoto, a Peruvian hot pepper, and is served with a slice of lime, a cilantro leaf, and a shrimp perched on
the edge just waiting tobe enjoyed.
Sweet corn, picked at the peak of ripeness, is paired with tender shrimp, crème fraîche, a dash of Spanish sparkling wine, and other “secret” ingredients for a gorgeous balance of complementary flavors in Sonora’s (179 Rectory St, Port Chester 914-933-0200) chilled corn and shrimp soup. Chef Rafael Palomino does everything with a touch of drama and flair, and this South American starter is no different. If you’re not enticed by the creaminess of this delicate bisque, you’ll be enchanted by the sublime, intriguing, golden orange boldness.
Can you say love at first sip?
There’s a reason gazpacho remains summer’s most popular cold soup. There’s nothing like fat, vine-ripened tomatoes plucked straight from the garden, and at River City Grill (6 S Broadway, Irvington 914-591-2033), those nuanced flavors practically hop out and greet you. Here, the chunky gazpacho includes jalapeño for kick, along with red pepper, cucumber, onion, and mango for sweetness. It’s garnished with sour cream and served with crispy corn tortillas.
Take the edge off steamy summer nights with the eggplant-toasted-almond soup from Juniper (575 Warburton Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson 914-478-2542), a take on white gazpacho. This velvety, mellow concoction tastes like a Mediterranean garden. It’s heart-healthiness only ups the ante, making it the true embodiment of “cool.”
Ladle of Love in Mount Kisco is the ultimate “soup central,” but for the pampering, sit-down experience, you need to go to its sister, Café of Love (38 E Main St, Mount Kisco 914-242-1002), where you’ll find summer’s signature fruit—watermelon—front and center, courtesy of the restaurant’s watermelon gazpacho. It’s a twist on the classic cold favorite, with Bermuda onion, jalapeño, ginger, cilantro, and, of course, lots of juicy watermelon, making this spoonful delight a perfect pairing of sweet and spicy.
The pea soup is back at Sweet Grass Grill (24 Main St, Tarrytown 914-631-0000), thanks to numerous customer requests. The soup is made with English spring peas, edamame, basil, and mint: an impossibly short list of ingredients that’s big on smoky depth and texture. Pair with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, and you’ll swear you just tasted spring rain.
Jeanne Muchnick, the author of the recently released Dinner for Busy Moms, is all about turning her stovetop (and oven!) off come summertime. She is a cold-soup aficionado who is still trying to convince her picky-eater kids that chilled soup is not “weird.”