The idea of a savory dish, a soup in particular, often brings to mind a warm steaming bowl or cup enjoyed indoors, a soothing respite from the cold.
But this soup is something altogether different, both savory and sweet with a touch of spice, meant to be served cold during the warmer weather.
In June Crosby and Ruth Conrad’s 1968 book Serve it Cold!: A Cookbook of Delcious Cold Dishes, the authors say, “The idea may be so strange to a number of us and so different from the bracing stimuli of hot soup, it might be necessary to adjust our mental taste reflexes to the delicacy, the soothing quiet effect of chilled soup” (1).
While many of us often resist this adjustment of “our mental taste reflexes,” turning instead to our favorite comfort foods time and time again, trying something different for a change shouldn’t be missed. Especially when you’re in the mood for something to revive and refresh yourself on a long, hot, lazy afternoon in the summertime.
It’s up to you whether you’d like to make this cooling treat a touch hot as well, with spicy chili powder added to taste.
Avocado helps to thicken the dish and doubles the healthy fats and nutrients you’ll find in this fresh blended soup, plus onion and chicken stock to deepen those savory notes, cucumber and fresh parsley (or cilantro), and a touch of lemon juice for brightness.
In various areas of Asia, Thailand in particular, coconut-based soups are exceedingly popular. Tom kha gai is savory, sour, and made with coconut milk. But, it’s typically served piping hot.
The nice thing about coconut is that it adds thickness and body to the mix, without introducing a dairy element. It’s refreshing and light, yet substantial at the same time – and it won’t cause that dreaded bloat (or worse) in the lactose-intolerant among us.
Though you’ll often find sweet fruit-flavored cold soups made with coconut, this savory offering is just begging to be sipped alongside shrimp cocktail and grilled corn, or a fresh tomato salad.
If this chilled soup has piqued your interest, don’t let it stop you right here. Check out our plentiful curation of the tastiest served-cold soup recipes we could find, and to fit every possible taste!
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step One – Prep Avocado & Onion
Halve both avocados, remove the pits, and separate the pulp from the skin.
An easy way to separate them is to press your thumb between the skin and the pulp, and work your way around the edge.
On a ripe avocado, the fruit will pop out of the skin quite easily.
If you’re having a bit more difficulty with yours, you can use a spoon to scrape the fruit out instead. If that still proves to be too difficult, your fruit may not be ripe enough and you should take steps to make it softer.
Peel and dice the onion. A rough chop is sufficient in this step, as everything will be blended together. Now is not the time to fret over a perfectly even dice!
Step Two – Blend Ingredients
Blend together the avocado pulp, lemon juice, and onion. By adding the lemon to the avocado immediately after peeling it, you are helping to prevent oxidization, which causes the avocado to brown.
Once the avocado, lemon, and onion are well incorporated, add the chicken stock and coconut milk.
To maximize flavor, we recommend making your own stock. It is so simple to do, and far superior in taste than boxed versions.
When I cook, I typically store any leftover vegetable scraps and chicken bones in freezer bags. Once the bag is full, I throw it all in the crockpot, cover with water, and cook on low for about 12 hours.
If you wish to make a vegan version of this soup, just substitute veggie stock for the chicken.
Step Three – Season & Chill
Season with salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste. Salt is the secret key to this dish – it will help to bring together all of the flavors.
Chili powder is optional, but the extra punch adds a lot to this soup. If you like a spicy soup, don’t be shy with it! If you prefer a milder approach, then sprinkle just a touch.
Pop your soup into the refrigerator to keep it cool until you’re ready to serve. It is preferable to serve this the same day that you make it, so it will maintain its nice green hue.
Step Four – Prepare Cucumber Garnish
Wash and peel the cucumber, cut it in half, and remove the seeds. If you’d like to add a bit of crunch to your soup you can keep the skin on, but I prefer the clean taste of peeled cucumber in this dish.
Cut into small cubes or slices for garnish.
Step Five – Serve!
When you’re ready to serve, just give the soup a quick stir. Top with cucumber, parsley, or cilantro, and dig in!
When a heatwave strikes, no one wants to spend the day in an even hotter kitchen. This quick and simple dish is the perfect solution.
Once the weather begins to turn cool again, we recommend this coconut soup option with a delicious Thai twist, part of Ashley’s post where she explains her obsession with coconut milk.
Of course, if a bevy of cold soups is what you’re after, we’ve got you covered there too! Check out Foodal’s recipe for chilled cucumber soup, or our round-up of delicious chilled soups from some of our favorite bloggers!
Let us know what your favorite cold soups are in the comments below!
Crosby, June and Ruth Conrad Bateman. Serve it Cold!: A Cookbook of Delcious Cold Dishes. Gramercy Publishing Company: New York, 1968. P. 41-42.
Photos by Kendall Vanderslice, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Additional writing and editing contributed by Kendall Vanderslice.
About Allison Sidhu
Allison M. Sidhu is a foodie from Philly who is based in Los Angeles, where she loves exploring the local restaurant scene with her husband. She holds a master's degree in gastronomy from Boston University. When she’s not in the kitchen whipping up something tasty (or listening to the latest food podcasts while she does the dishes!) you’ll probably find Allison tapping away at her keyboard, curled up with a good book (or ready to dominate with controller in hand in front of the latest video game) on the couch, or devouring a food-filled magazine at the beach.