Seven Cold Soups around the World
Spanish almond soup Ajo Blanco makes a refreshing starter.
There are plenty of cold soups beyond gazpacho though its savoury umami hit is endlessly refreshing. Ring the changes with watermelon gazpacho garnished with pickled watermelon rind for a truly zeitgeist, zero-waste soup. Andalusian salmorejo, a speciality of Cordoba, memorably served by Paco Morales at El Bar de Paco Morales with the addition of orange, is another great alternative. Salmorejo is a thicker and creamier emulsion consisting of tomato and bread with oil, garlic and vinegar. The cold purée is usually garnished with diced Serrano ham and hard boiled egg.
Mul Naengmyeon (Korean)
A soup so cold, it is actually served on ice. South East Asian cuisine has a tradition of cold noodle soups, they are considered a great delicacy: the purity of the broth is paramount. The Korean recipe, Mul Naengmyeon has earthy, chewy buckwheat and sweet potato noodles (if making at home, wash cooked noodles when cool to remove starch), cucumber, crisp daikon radish, sweet Asian pear, hard-boiled egg, and tart vinegar, sometimes a spoonful of kimchi too. Note slurping the noodles whole is considered good luck.
Bukkake Udon (Japanese)
This is made from cold dashi-based broth, soy sauce and mirin, with just a little sugar to balance the flavours. The latter four ingredients are made into kaeshi which is then blended with dashi to make the broth. It's salty and savory, with layer upon layer of complexity.
Bukkake Udon is served splashed onto cold, slippery noodles cooked al dente to retain some bite and served with a choice of condiments nori seaweed, grated fresh ginger, pickled ginger, toasted sesame seeds, freshly grated daikon, bonito flakes, thinly sliced spring onion and an onsen egg. (This is a Japanese-style egg that produces the silkiest soft boiled eggs by cooking in a mix of soy, mirin, sugar and dashi at a carefully controlled below boiling temperature (75C) which have tender whites and runny eggs).
Ajo Blanco (Spanish)
Ajo Blanco is a supremely sophisticated almond and garlic soup typical of southern Spain made with Marcona almonds, sherry vinegar and olive oil. Precursor to better known Spanish cold soups like gazpacho tomato, pepper and salmorejo. Only bread, olive oil, garlic, sherry vinegar are emulsified and preferably by hand using a mortar and pestle or by pounding the ingredients together in a large wooden bowl called a dornillo. This would make sense, as the ingredients were all available before the discovery of the Americas and tomato.
Cherry Soup (Hungarian)
A tart semi-sweet soup that must be made with sour cherries during their brief summer season. This treat is omnipresent in Hungarian homes and restaurants over midsummer. The sour cherries are cooked with red wine and cinnamon, cloves and lemon zest and once cold, are finished with a flourish of sour cream, a few cherries, dill, sunflower seeds and drizzle of grapeseed oil.
Tarator (Bulgaria/North Macedonia)
Ultra refreshing and cooling, this Bulgarian soup is made with yogurt, small, peeled cucumbers, garlic, chopped dill, sunflower oil, roast walnuts, and a little ice. There are numerous regional variations: cucumbers are sometimes replaced with carrots or lettuce. It is sometimes simply offered as a refreshment between meals and Bulgarians are partial to tarator accompanied by cold rakiya (a Bulgarian grappa) or ouzo.
Šaltibarščia Beetroot Soup (Lithuanian)
The Lithuanian take on cold beetroot soup is called šaltibarščiai (pronounced shalt-eh-barsh-chay). It is a winning, vibrant, Instagram pink and invariably elicits a wow reaction from guests. Besides beetroot, it is made with small, unpeeled cucumbers, kefir (though a combination of yoghurt and buttermilk works too). It is very good for the digestive system as it contains high quantities of beneficial bacteria and yeasts - and tastes simply delicious.
Vichyssoise (French origins yet American)
Surely the most refreshing way to eat potato in summer is vichyssoise. It is both deeply savoury and thirst quenching. Contrary to its presumed total Frenchness, the silky smooth soup was invented by a French chef Louis Diat working at New York’s Ritz-Carlton in 1917 as a tribute to his mother’s leek and potato soup, according to an interview with the chef in The New Yorker magazine.
For the classic recipe, leeks are sautéed in butter and potatoes simmered in chicken stock, enriched with double cream, blended and chilled and called Crème Vichyssoise Glacée, after the spa town near where Diat grew up in France. For a lighter ‘spa’ version, Julia Child’s simply simmers the vegetables in water and suggests the cream is optional.
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