Borscht

A warm soup in the middle of a cold winter day can be just what you need to refuel your body and spirit, and a cold soup on a hot summer day can do exactly the same. You’ll save energy by not turning on your stove, and you’ll keep your house cooler as well. All you need to make these refreshing summer chilled soup recipes is a blender, a refrigerator and fresh, organic local produce.

Always start with very cold ingredients; pop vegetables in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill them down before you begin. Even better, serve your cold soups in chilled bowls – just put them in the freezer for 10 minutes before you are ready to eat. Fresh and fiber-rich, these cooling summer soups are easy to make and taste best when eaten on a porch or picnic table in the warm sunshine. Each recipe serves 4-5.

1. Spicy Vegan Avocado Soup

Mash together the flesh of two chilled, peeled, pitted avocados with 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, 1 large chopped jalapeno (keep the seeds in for more heat, or remove for less), 1 large garlic clove (minced), 8 mint leaves (or cilantro if you prefer) and ½ teaspoon salt. Let chill for an hour let the flavors meld together. When ready to serve, add to your blender and mix, adding a little water at a time until the soup is the consistency you desire. Garnish with a mint leaf and lime wheel.

2. Watermelon Gazpacho

Remove rind and seeds, and cut 2 cups of watermelon into dice-sized chunks. In a blender, puree ½ cup of these chunks with 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice and 2 tablespoons of premium extra-virgin olive oil. Transfer to medium bowl and add remaining watermelon along with 1 diced seedless cucumber, 1 diced yellow bell pepper (stem and seeds removed), 1 small diced white onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 small minced jalapeno (seeds removed), 3 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and chill until ready to serve. Garnish with fresh lime and cilantro.

3. Cucumber Horseradish Soup

Cut two seedless cucumbers into small chunks, leaving the peel on. In a blender, puree 1 ½ cups plain yogurt (low-fat is fine), 4 teaspoons lemon zest, 2 tablespoons fresh horseradish, ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper with one of the cucumbers until completely smooth. Add remaining cucumber and blend for a few more seconds only, leaving the mixture chunky. Chill until cold (about one hour) and garnish with a slice of cucumber and sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.

4. Cantaloupe Chili Soup

Remove the seeds and rind of a 3-pound cantaloupe and cut into chunks. Puree in a blender with 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, ½ teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons Sriracha (sweet Thai chili sauce). Chill until cold (about one hour) and garnish with a swirl of Sriracha.

5. Beet Buttermilk Soup

Peel one pound of fresh beets and cut into large chunks. Add to your blender and puree along with 1/3 cup chopped green onions, 3 cups buttermilk (low-fat is fine) and 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Refrigerate until chilled (about one hour) and stir well before serving. Garnish with a swirl of buttermilk.

Image: Tanya !