By Dr. Mercola
If you live in much of the U.S., a warm bowl of soup is wonderfully warming and heartening in the chilly months of fall and winter, but when spring and summer arrive, something lighter and cooler seems much more appealing.
Soups contain numerous vitamins, minerals and valuable micronutrients contained in the veggies, fruits, nuts, herbs and spices that nourish your body. The perfect way to resolve the lack-of-soup dilemma is easy: cold soup. Fresh ingredient blends can liven up traditional gazpachos and ho-hum vichyssoises to pique your imagination.
Cold soups (usually) incorporate raw vegetables that can be diced or otherwise put together using a blender or food processor without heating your stovetop, oven or kitchen. It's one of the most nutritious and convenient aspects of cold soup; these modern contraptions render produce the ultimate "fast food."
Soups of any temperature are a nutritious way of preparing vegetables because the entire essence is consumed rather than being boiled away or drained as is often done with other methods of food preparation.
Avocado, ground almonds and yogurt work well as a stand-in for stocks or broth — meat isn't always a prerequisite — adding body, flavor and nutrition. Other popular ingredients include watermelon, mint, cashews and cucumber.
Blending up your favorite combo may even change the way you set your table during the dog days of summer.
All About That Spice: Can Spices Help You Lose Weight?
Plant-based foods are very healthy for you, and when they're raw, they're (usually) most nutritious. The same goes for fruits, spices, herbs and nuts, most of which fall into the "plant-based" category. Other than the natural juices in these soups, there's also a vital ingredient: water, the original appetite suppressant.
Each one has a unique set of attributes, both flavor-wise and nutritionally. Combinations can bring unique flavors you may never have thought of combining, such as onions sautéed with Granny Smith apples, but spices work even harder; a little can go a long way for more than just your taste buds.
Certified nutrition specialist and Nutrition Diva1 Monica Reinagel wrote about a friend of hers who claimed to have lost amazing amounts of weight after starting a new diet based on spices, namely cumin, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper and cayenne, to flush toxins and speed up metabolism.
While it's true that cinnamon is known for stabilizing blood sugar levels, and turmeric, ginger and garlic can lower inflammation, the claim that these spices melt pounds in this way is not quite accurate, Reinagel says.
In reality, as tasty as they may be, adding spices to your meals alone will probably not trigger dramatic weight loss.2 That being said, it certainly can't hurt, either.
For instance, capsaicin, the compound that gives cayenne pepper its heat, may help fight obesity by decreasing calorie intake, shrinking fat tissue and lowering blood fat levels, as well as fight fat buildup by triggering beneficial protein changes in your body.3
Black pepper, meanwhile, contains a substance called piperine, which not only gives it its pungent flavor, but also blocks the formation of new fat cells.4
Ginger is another good choice, as it has thermogenic properties that help boost your metabolism, as well as has an appetite-suppressant effect when consumed, suggesting a "potential role of ginger in weight management."5
So, there's good reason to add plenty of spices to your cold soups. Use your imagination and let your taste buds be your guide.
Antioxidants: Necessary for Health
Raw, plant-based foods are high in antioxidants, but while it may seem surprising, "more" antioxidants aren't actually beneficial after a point. It's even possible to get too many antioxidants, Reinagel asserts, although she believes that's usually in regard to supplements rather than spices.
The root word in "antioxidants" is oxygen, but there's also the "anti" part; you can't survive without oxygen, but too much damages your cells and causes early aging throughout your system very similar to the way an apple slice turns brown from exposure to air.
Exposure to environmental toxins such as household cleaners, cigarette smoke and radiation leads to the production of harmful oxidative molecules called free radicals in your body. Free radicals are also formed with energy production caused by exercise, metabolism and even inflammation.
A free radical is a highly reactive metabolite, produced during metabolism, but missing one or more electrons. That missing electron is what kick-starts biological oxidation, which can attack other molecules to forage for missing electrons.
Once stolen, that electron morphs into a new free radical, which continues to attack other molecules.
That's why free radicals are so insidious: They damage your cells and DNA, and worse, tend to gather in cell membranes, compromising the lipids in cell membranes. Oxidized cell membranes become perforated, brittle and useless.
Antioxidants are molecules that can prevent another molecule from oxidizing by giving up their own electrons to feed free radicals without becoming free radicals themselves.
Antioxidant nutrients in your body also produce enzymes that further protect from free radicals, but this ability declines as you age. Daily exposure to damaging substances in the air you breathe and foods you eat contributes to oxidative stress, which occurs when free radicals outnumber your natural antioxidants.
Whether you like soups that are smooth and silky or thick and chunky, you'll be inspired by the following five cool recipes, incorporating sensational and mouthwatering ingredient combinations, plus a hearty dose of antioxidants in every refreshing bowl. Choose organic ingredients whenever possible.
5 Tasty and Nutritious Cold Soup Recipes
1. Tangy Green Zebra Gazpacho
This soup introduces a unique tomato variety for a tangier flavor. It can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container for overnight refrigeration.
- 2 lbs. Green Zebra tomatoes, coarsely chopped, plus another 1/2 cup for garnish (may substitute tomatillos or unripe red tomatoes)
- 1 cucumber, seedless, unpeeled and coarsely chopped, plus 1/2 cup for garnish
- 1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 avocado, halved and peeled
- 1 small jalapeño, stemmed and seeded
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 Tbsp. each fresh lime juice, mint leaves and cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Sea salt to taste
- In a blender, blend half of the coarsely chopped green tomatoes, cucumber and onion with all of the avocado, jalapeno, garlic and lime juice, plus 1 cup of cold water. Purée until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add the rest of the coarsely chopped veggies to the blender with the mint, cilantro and olive oil and pulse to a chunky puree. Add the mixture to the bowl and stir well.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour. Season before serving, ladle into bowls, garnish with the veggies and herbs and drizzle with olive oil.
Source: Food and Wine6
2. Chilled Cucumber, Apple and Mint Soup
Also delicious served hot, this tasty, surprisingly complex soup gets its creamy texture from a bit of cream and yogurt.
• 2 seedless (English) cucumbers
• 2 Granny Smith apples, cut into chunks
• 1 Tbsp. finely chopped (peeled) gingerroot
• 20 fresh mint leaves
• 2 cups plain raw grass-fed yogurt
• Heavy whipping cream, preferably grass-fed and raw
• 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1. In a blender, combine the cucumber, apple, ginger and mint leaves and purée. Stop and scrape the sides of the blender if necessary.
2. Add the yogurt, cream, lemon juice and salt and continue processing until thoroughly blended. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
For super cold soup, refrigerate the bowls, too, before filling them. After ladling the soup into the bowls, garnish with the green onions.
Source: Dairy Goodness7
3. Cool and Creamy Beet Borscht
Deliciously fresh and lemony, creamy cold beet borscht may seem time intensive because of the beet-cooking process, but here's an easy method: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash and trim the beets, leaving the root and 2 inches of stem intact to prevent them from bleeding.
Lightly oil and wrap the beets in foil and place them on a baking sheet to oven roast. Cook until easily pierced with a sharp knife (or boil them in water for about 30 minutes). Remove the beets from the oven, cool for 10 minutes, then peel.
- 5 medium-sized, cooked beets, cooled and coarsely chopped
- 12 oz. organic chicken or vegetable stock
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill weed
- 1/2 tsp. each Dr. Mercola's sea salt and black pepper
- 6 scallions, chopped
- 2 cups organic raw sour cream or plain raw grass-fed yogurt, or one cup of each
- Additional sour cream and chopped chives for garnish
- Place the beets and the stock in a food processor and whir until slightly chunky.
- Add the lemon zest, dill, salt and pepper and scallions. Blend until smooth. Pour into the large bowl.
- Thoroughly blend in the combination of sour cream or yogurt you'd like and chill until very cold.
- Serve in chilled bowls with dollops of sour cream or yogurt and a sprinkling of dill.
Source: Kate Battistelli8
4. Chilled Sorrel Soup
While sorrel is a green with both culinary and medicinal history, it's not often available in stores other than farmers markets. You can grow it in abundance, though. Its tart, faintly lemony flavor profile is due in part to oxalic acid, which some consider unsafe, but only in profuse amounts (as anything can be if you ingest too much). Besides being beautifully cool and creamy, this soup is also exceptionally healthy for you.
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 3 1/2 cups of filtered water
- 1 bunch sorrel (about 1 1/2 cups, chopped)
- 1 avocado, roughly chopped
- Juice and zest from 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 tsp. each of white pepper and Dr. Mercola's sea salt
- Place the cashews in a bowl and cover them with the water (which you'll save). Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight.
- Pour the cashews and the water into a food processor and blend until very smooth (be patient). Leave it as it is, or for a silkier consistency, strain the cashew mixture in a mesh strainer.
- Add the sorrel, avocado, lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper to the cashew mixture and blend until smooth. Chill thoroughly before serving, and serve with a tiny bunch of chiffonade-sliced sorrel as a garnish.
Source: Seasonal and Savory9
5. Chilled Watermelon Gazpacho
The word is not the thing, so if you'd prefer, you can call this cold soup "dessert." Either way, it's flavorful, delectable and filling. Nothing in this soup is ever cooked, which adds to the cooling sensation when you taste the first delicious spoonful. It's even tastier on the second day.
With more lycopene than raw tomatoes, you wouldn't think of watermelon soup as hearty or filling, but this is! It's also an example of a soup that can be efficiently mixed using a hand-held immersion blender. Remember, too, that watermelon should be enjoyed in moderation due to its fructose content. One-sixteenth of a medium watermelon contains 11.3 grams of fructose.
- 6 cups of watermelon, coarsely chopped
- 2 green apples, diced
- 1/4 cup onion, diced
- 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
- 1/4 cup pineapple, diced
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
- 1/4 tsp. chili powder
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. raw honey, or stevia to taste
- Place all the ingredients into a large bowl, preferably heavy-duty glass. Use an immersion blender (or process or blend in batches) until no large pieces are left.
- Blend to a smooth consistency. Chill for several hours or overnight and serve cold with a sprig of mint or cucumber curls as a garnish.
Tips, Tricks and More Cold Soup Recipes
One more awesome thing about making summer soups is that you can easily find a recipe incorporating bumper crops, from peaches to squash to snap peas. You can also toss in ingredients from your fridge or cupboard that you want to use up, such as sour cream, yogurt and almond or coconut milk. Top with a mound of sprouts for an attractive and nutritious garnish. Want more healthy and delicious cold soup recipes?
- Try one that's both raw and vegan: Cold Coconut Curry Soup.11
- Blending your greens in Blended Green Soup12 (rather than processing the living daylights out of them) breaks down the tough cell membranes so your system can make immediate use of them.
- Zucchini, tomatoes, basil, bell peppers and other veggies from your garden, with a twist of savory sweetness from one or two dates and a bit of miso, make Raw Summer Vegetable Soup13 complex and delectable.
- Epic Raw Chili14 contains no legumes or nuts, and introduces fresh mushrooms, chipotles, smoked sea salt with more traditional ingredients such as green peppers, tomatoes and onion.
- Cashew butter, carrots, onions and fresh ginger are all it takes to make Raw Loulou's Carrot Orange and Ginger Soup,15 either cold or room temperature.
Try this cool trick for a day trip to the beach: When your puréed pot of soup is super cold, fill several short Mason jars for individual servings to hand out when lunch time rolls around. Also, pour some soup into ice cube trays, freeze and take those along. When someone asks for seconds, just spoon a few cubes into their jar. Super cool!