Usually you think of soup as an autumn or winter food, but truthfully, nothing beats a great summer soup. Tomatoes, eggplants, summer squash, onions, and basil are all natural classic combinations that are hard to get wrong. But cucumbers, carrots, sorrel, and lettuces are often overlooked but make fantastic ingredients in summer soups. When these veggies are in season it’s hard to improve upon the delicious flavors of ripe and tender vegetables from a garden or farmer’s market.

Summer soups are not just limited to vegetables and herbs. Summer’s also a time to make great chilled soups, including both veggie and fruit-based soups. The first chilled soup I had was of course, gazpacho. I remember thinking, cold soup? But it was delicious and from there a whole new door filled with cold soups was open, apple soup, lemon soup, strawberry soup. The list goes on and on.

Here are some great summer soup recipes we found on the web; mouth-watering, tasty and easy to make:

  • Cucumber Gazpacho with Watermelon and Mint – Refreshingly light and just a little bit sweet and spicy, this cool, colorful soup is a novel twist classic gazpacho. From Country Living.
  • Ginger and Carrot Soup – This cold ginger and carrot soup recipe from Health can be made several days in advance. Just add the yogurt before serving. Ginger and lime give it a nice refreshing taste with a little kick.
  • Minty Pea Soup from Bon Appetit is not your typical split pea soup, that’s for sure. Served cold with fresh garden peas and mint are two ways to use up the bounty in your garden (or your neighbor’s or your friend’s). It’s worth planting them in your garden next year just for this soup!
  • Summer Fruit Soup from Emeril has it all: strawberries, chopped pineapple, chopped mango and orange juice. Doesn’t that sound both mouth-watering and refreshing?
  • Creamy Tomato & Orange Soup – I’ve never heard of this combination before, but boy, it looks good! Made by Epices et Baobabs, a self-proclaimed wandering foodie, she says, “Unlike gazpacho, this soup is pretty clean, it doesn’t have a lot of oil and is completely gluten-free. The creamy texture comes from the oven-roasted tomatoes and the carrots and the orange juice gives it a nice fresh zesty taste.” And what a great way to use all those delicious and in-season tomatoes.

To puree soups, you can use a blender, food processor or hand held blender. Each has its pros and cons. A blender makes the smoothest puree, but you‘ll have to process the soup in batches. While a hand-held blender you can puree the soup right in the pot. A food processor works well, especially for large quantities. If you have trouble with the liquid leaking out of your food processor, drain and reserve the liquid. Process just the solids and add a little of the reserved liquid at a time.

Chilled soups may thicken too much for your taste after refrigeration so you may want to thin them with a little extra broth, milk or water.

I know you’re not supposed to play with your food, but play away. Experiment with different combinations, test new recipes and serve up some soup–both hot and cold–this summer. Soup is definitely not just for winter!