Sweet & Savory Summer Soups

A few minutes in the blender and a light dinner is ready to serve

Like many women of her generation, my mother worshipped at the altar of Julia Child. Her copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking was worn and spattered with layers of ingredients from meals gone by. Mom’s attempts at mastering the recipes met with varying degrees of success. While my mother was and is a painter of some renown, her culinary skills missed as often as they hit.

There was never a question of her ability; she had that in spades. The reality was that my mother always preferred her studio to her kitchen. She would sometimes abandon a dish mid-preparation to run back to a painting she was working on. The result could be meals that were under-cooked, burned beyond recognition, or simply a collection of ingredients left on the kitchen counter.

One of the recipes she did perfect was vichyssoise, a chilled potato and leek soup. She would double or triple the recipe and there would be cold soup for days, a tasty solution to the problem of stolen studio time.

But while Julia’s vichyssoise recipe is velvety, rich, and simply elegant, it still requires actual cooking. There are some days when it’s just too hot to turn on the stove—welcome to climate change—and given both the current heat and worries about future heat, it often feels better not to. Some days, I just don’t feel like cooking. Those days cry out for simple, chilled soups that can be ready with a minute or two in a food processor or blender.

These two chilled soups—one sweet, one savory—are ridiculously easy to prepare. They’re light and refreshing, just the thing for the waning days of summer. They pack easily for a trip to the beach or a family picnic. Both are great to have on hand for a quick lunch on the go. And they’re loaded with fresh, healthy ingredients. What more could you ask for as summer comes to a close?


Photo by Candace Karu

This delightfully refreshing soup, served ice cold, is the perfect antidote for the sultry days of September. Serve it with a wedge of Brie and a crusty baguette or a simple green salad.

6 cups seedless watermelon, cut into large dice
Juice of one medium lemon or lime
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
Assorted berries, diced cantaloupe, sliced kiwi (for garnish)
Plain Greek yogurt
Fresh mint leaves


Combine watermelon, lemon or lime juice, chopped mint, honey and ginger in a food processor or blender. Cover and process until smooth. Store soup in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least two hours.

To serve, garnish with fresh fruit, a dollop of Greek yogurt and a mint leaf.


Photo by Candace Karu

The bold taste and bright flavors of this nutritious, delicious soup have made it a staple at my house. I like to serve it garnished with fresh shrimp and a round of pita or naan to soak up every last drop.

1 lb tomatillos (remove husks, rinse thoroughly, quartered and seeded)
1 English cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup baby spinach
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Cilantro leaves for garnish
Ground pepper and flaked salt for seasoning
Cooked shrimp or lobster (optional)


Combine tomatillos, cucumber, onion, jalapeño, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, spinach and chopped cilantro in a food processor or blender. Cover and process until smooth. Store soup in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least two hours. Soup will keep two to three days.

To serve, garnish with cilantro leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Add cooked shrimp or even lobster if you’re feeling extra festive.

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