Cold soups have a long history. Many, like gazpacho, originated in Mediterranean countries with long, hot summers. But cold soups have been part of northern diets as well.

Eastern Europe has given us deeply flavored beet borscht and sorrel-rich schav. Cold berry soups are common in Scandinavia, and vichyssoise was created by the French.

Chilled soups have become increasingly popular in America. They are a refreshing way to start a meal or take the edge off hunger as a snack.

Chilled soups are a convenient way to help reach the number of daily servings of vegetables recommended for optimum health. Some vegetables need to be briefly cooked before puréeing, but others require no cooking at all before tossing them into the blender with seasonings and a liquid base like broth, juice, or milk – and even buttermilk.

Despite its name, buttermilk is not a buttery, high-fat dairy product. To begin with, unlike the original version, there is no butter in buttermilk today, and it is lower in fat than regular milk. Buttermilk it is now produced by adding special bacteria to non-fat or low-fat milk. Buttermilk tastes a little like yogurt and is an excellent base for chilled soups. It is slightly thicker than regular milk but not as heavy as cream.

Fresh Mint - Great for Summer Soups

Fresh mint. Easy to grow and a great summer ingredient.

Mint is often used in cold summer soups. Choose mint with evenly colored leaves and no sign of wilting or brown spots. You can keep mint fresh for up to a week if you place it in a glass of water, cover with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Changing the water every two days will further extend the mint’s freshness.

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Chilling reduces a soup’s flavor. Check the taste of a cold soup before serving and add additional seasoning if the soup seems bland.

Minted Pea with Buttermilk Soup

Yield: Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 package (10 oz.) frozen peas, defrosted
  • 2/3 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp. dried chervil
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint leaves, or to taste
  • 1 cup fat-free or low-fat buttermilk
  • Salt and white pepper to taste, if desired

Directions

  1. In small saucepan, simmer peas in broth, along with chervil, covered, for 10 minutes or until peas are very tender.
  2. Transfer to blender. Add mint and buttermilk, and purée until very smooth. Strain soup through fine-mesh sieve into bowl or pitcher. Chill soup in refrigerator or freezer until cold. (To hasten chilling, place bowl in larger bowl of ice and cold water, and stir until soup is cold.)
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary, adding more chervil, mint, salt and pepper, as desired. (Cold soups usually need more seasonings than hot ones.)
  4. Serve in bowl or in tall glass, over ice cubes if desired.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
160 calories,
2 g. fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat),
25 g. carbohydrate,
12 g. protein,
6 g. dietary fiber,
468 mg. sodium