Chill Out: Seven Cold Summer Soups to Order Now

Soup that isn’t served hot can be a real drag. Unless, of course, it’s cold soup, in which case it is a delightfully refreshing blast of flavor on a hot summer’s day. Here are seven cold summer soups to order now — and the restaurants at which to do so. 

Ajo Blanco
Sometimes referred to as “white gazpacho,” ajo blanco is a subtle Spanish summer delicacy made from ground almonds, garlic, bread, and olive oil for a smooth and cool texture on the tongue. A specialty of the Andalusian region of Spain, you’ll find it at your better tapas restaurants and Spanish wine bars. It is a real hit when it’s on the menu at at Jaleo by José Andrés in Washington, D.C. Give yourself extra points for consuming the superfood that is almonds. [Photo courtesy of Jaleo by José Andrés]

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Borsch, or borscht, the storied beet soup of Eastern Europe can be served either hot or cold. A staple in New York’s Jewish community, it inspired the colloquial name of the old resort region in upstate New York: the “Borscht Belt.” But you don’t have to go to the Catskills to enjoy a good bowl of this purple pleasure. If you find yourself in San Francisco, schlep on over to the Inner Richmond district for a sanguine supper at Katia’s Russian Tea Room and Restaurant. Just be sure not to wear white unless your spooning skills are top notch. [Photo courtesy of Katia’s Russian Tea Room and Restaurant]

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Chilled Asparagus Soup
Cold soup, it turns out, can be made from just about any vegetable or fruit, offering a wide array of flavors and textures. Carrots lend their natural sweetness and pair well with fresh herbs, grated ginger, turmeric, and more subtle spices. Leeks bring fragrance to the bland creaminess of potatoes. Avocados, asparagus, fennel — all of these can take the main stage in a sublime cold soup when they are seasonably plentiful. These days, you’ll be able to find a great selection of freshly made soups made with everything from artichokes to zebra squash. At Pub & Kitchen in Philadelphia’s Center City, chef Eli Collins is dazzling diners with a lovely chilled asparagus soup featuring rhubarb, queso fresco, and almonds. [Photo courtesy of Pub & Kitchen]

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Korean Cold Noodle Soup
My completely unanticipated passion for cold soups began at a Korean-Chinese hole-in-the-wall somewhere in northern China where my host ordered us each a bowl of Korean Cold Noodle Soup (naengmyun). A full meal in itself, the large stainless steel bowl was filled with toothy noodles in an icy-cold, sweet, spicy, and tangy beef broth that I can still taste in my mind today. It was topped with an Asian pear, cucumbers, and more sliced beef. I’ve been chasing that dragon ever since. Stateside, Seorabol Korean Restaurant in Philadelphia makes their cold buckwheat noodles by hand in the traditional way. “This is the way Koreans have made and eaten naengmyun for centuries and we plan to keep that tradition and culture alive, even when it is not convenient,” says Seorabol’s chef Chris Cho. Seorabol offers two variations of the dish: bibim naengmyun (spicy mix), pictured, and mool naengmyun (in cold beef broth). Both are guaranteed to delight. [Photo courtesy of Seorabol]

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20 Raves for Gazpacho 20 Ways: Trending on Restaurant Reviews

gazpacho-blogGazpacho is almost as much fun to say as it is to eat. Almost. While scores of foodies adore traditional tangy gazpacho, chefs are thinking outside the red tomato and letting other fruits and vegetables be the stars. This chilled soup, which is positively synonymous with summer, is being prepared with ingredients from cucumbers to watermelon — and everything in between. Check out what diners are saying about gazpacho served 20 different ways, in recent OpenTable restaurant reviews. 

Artichoke, Albuquerque, New Mexico: “The yellow tomato gazpacho was garlicky and good.”

Atchafalaya, New Orleans, Louisiana: “The soup of the day was to die for — watermelon-tomatillo gazpacho. It was absolutely wonderful.”

Bartlett Pear Inn, Easton, Maryland: “The food was amazing! Starting with a mango-honey dew gazpacho…mmmm!”

Bishop’s, Vancouver, British Columbia: “Delicious creamy gazpacho from sungold tomatoes with a spoonful of fennel sorbet and poached prawns was amazing!”

Bluestem, Kansas City, Missouri: “The gazpacho martini is the single most delish cocktail I’ve ever imbibed.”

Charley G’s Seafood Grill, Lafeyette, Louisiana: “My wife got the watermelon gazpacho soup with lump crab meat which was out of this world.”

Chef and the Farmer, Kinston, North Carolina: “I highly recommend the sungold tomato and peach gazpacho. What an exciting surprise offering a delectable variety of tastes.”

Coohills, Denver, Colorado: “The green tomato gazpacho was not your run-of the-mill soup but a medley of great flavors.”

Dovetail, New York, New York: “The melon gazpacho for a first course on a warm summer day was refreshing and wonderfully flavored.”

* Gotham Bar and Grill, New York, New York: “I had the very best gazpacho of my life next. I didn’t want to finish it because I didn’t want the amazing blend of compressed yellow peppers, watermelon, cucumber, garlic, strawberry, and tomato to end!”

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Trending on OpenTable Recent Restaurant Reviews: Sweet Peas

Pea soup is super, but there are dozens of ways chefs are showcasing this short-lived springtime delight.

Sweet peas are a sure sign of spring. Largely intolerant of temperatures higher than seventy degrees, sweet, or garden, peas tend to leave town as soon as high summer arrives in many growing climates. So, the time is ripe to eat these emerald gems — and chefs are serving them up in truly inventive ways. Pea soup is a staple of the season’s menus — and thank goodness because we LOVE pea soup — but there are hundreds of other ways to sample one of spring’s most beloved treats. Peas are rich in folic acid (a must for expectant moms), and they’re a good source of vitamins A and C. Find out how what your fellow OpenTable diners are saying about sweet peas in recent restaurant reviews!

A Voce Columbus, New York, New York: “The real standout for me was the pea and mascarpone ravioli. It was finished with breadcrumbs and cheese and was true comfort food without being heavy.”

ABC Cocina, New York, New York: “Everything was excellent. The pea guacamole, the prawns with bananas and almonds, short rib, and fish tacos.”

Agrodolce, Seattle, Washington: “Maria Hines does something with peas that no one else ever does with peas, so whenever peas are on the menu, we order them.”

Beast and Bottle, Denver, Colorado: “The pea soufflé is absolutely divine!”

Birdhouse on Hennepin, Minneapolis, Minnesota: “The pea paté and the deviled eggs were really good as starters.”

The Dandelion, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: “Particularly good was the spring pea soup. I’m not ordinarly a pea soup fan, but I could make a meal out of this stuff.”

Eiffel Tower, Las Vegas, Nevada: “The English pea soup was out of this world.”

Etch, Nashville, Tennessee: “The truffled pea pesto was AMAZING.”

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Trending on Recent OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Cucumbers

The Screaming Viking cocktail is often garnished with bruised cucumber.

As temperatures have soared around North America this summer, diners have sought relief in cool summer cocktails and fare. A favorite ingredient of chefs and foodies alike are cucumbers. Fragrant, crunchy, and easily paired with sweet and savory ingredients, cucumbers can be found in dozens of varieties, from the popular Marketmore 76 and Lemon Yellow, to Poona Khera and Suyo Long. Find out how OpenTable diners have been enjoying these refreshing vegetables during the warm weather. 

Alex Italian Restaurant, Rutherford, California: “A melon and cucumber salad was perfect for a warm summer day.”

Bannock, Toronto, Ontario: “We had the pickerel tacos, which were delicious, as usual. The pickerel was fresh-tasting and lightly cooked, so it was moist and delicate. The apple and cucumber salad continues to be a great tangy accompaniment.”

Brasserie Cognac, New York, New York: “Cucumber soup was outstanding, particularly on the sticky and stormy evening when we visited.”

* Carmichaels Steakhouse, Chicago, Illinois: “Amazing specialty drinks; had the tastiest cucumber martini — definitely recommend this as a summer drink on a warm night!”

* Founding Farmers, Washington, D.C.: “Amazing brunch; best in D.C. Get the chicken and waffles and the cranberry cucumber cooler and you will want to order it every day.”

The Foundry on Melrose, Los Angeles, California: “My wife had a cocktail with cucumber and jalapeno and said it was one of the best she has ever had.”

Garrido’s Restaurant, Austin, Texas: “I love the kiwi cucumber martini.”

La Condesa, Austin, Texas: “Venison tacos were especially tasty — with a tangy tinge from the pickled cucumbers.”

Majolica, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania: “The cucumber sorbet with basil and olive oil, served complementary as a palate cleanser, was absolutely outstanding. The sorbet is a great example of a little touch that will keep us coming back for more!”

Maloney & Porcelli, New York, New York: “Gazpacho with cucumber sorbet was a delicious surprise.”

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