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On cold soup

When it comes to cold soups, I’m of two minds. Part of me says that cold soup is as close as it gets to perfect summer fare. I mean, it’s only logical: so many of the season’s fruits and vegetables take well to cold preparations, and anyway, there’s something about a hot, steamy day that begs for a cool, quenching soup. But the other part of me can’t quite get behind it. Sometimes savory flavors don’t sit right when served cold and puréed: the taste doesn’t seem to fit the temperature and texture. Cold soups can taste harsh and kind of squeaky in the mouth, but their flavors seem somehow muted too, without the aroma and richness of their warmer siblings. And moreover, it just feels weird to sip cold liquid from a spoon. Cold liquids, this part of me argues, should be sipped from a frosty glass, or maybe taken through a straw, like a milkshake. Cold soups are not, sadly, much like milkshakes.

By this point, you can probably tell which of my two minds I usually think with. Which is why, when Brandon pointed out a recipe for a chilled carrot-ginger soup in a recent Gourmet, I nodded my approval with only mild enthusiasm. The list of ingredients sounded pretty good—especially with the presence of avocado and curry—but well, you know. Let’s just say that I didn’t exactly rush out in search of a stash of carrots. A week or so went peacefully by, sans cold soup, and then, on Saturday, it happened: my eye—cursed wandering eye!—fell upon a five-pound bag of organic carrots at Whole Foods. And what’s more, it was only $2.99. Two ninety-nine, people. I was powerless.

So today I came home from work to find Brandon in the kitchen and three cups of fresh carrot juice in the blender, soon to be joined by an avocado, lime juice, ginger, and salt. They whirred together for barely a minute—just enough time, say, for a girl to trade her high heels for bare feet—and then dinner was ready.

A vivid orange, almost iridescent, this soup is one of the prettiest things to land atop our table this season. It is also quite stunningly delicious—“even better,” Brandon said in mid-mouthful, “than the sum of its parts.” Silky smooth and subtly sweet, the beguilingly simple carrot base is spiced up with the zing of fresh ginger and a gentle kick from lime. The avocado blends in almost imperceptibly, its subtle richness serving as a sort of culinary cashmere blanket, I like to imagine, to soften and unite the soup’s flavors. Heck, even I liked it. It’s pretty perfect summer fare, I must admit—no matter how many minds you have.

Gingered Carrot Soup with Avocado
Adapted from Gourmet, August 2006

This soup is easy, easy, easy, and it would make an elegant prelude to a dinner from the grill—maybe flank steak or fish, with a few baby potatoes. [We, um, followed our soup with some garlic knots, but that’s not necessarily recommended.] The only thing to fuss over is the carrot juice: it must be fresh, either juiced at home or bought fresh from the refrigerated section of your grocery store. Don’t be tempted to grab the canned or bottled stuff. We juiced ours at home, and it took less than five minutes, so if you have a juicer, now’s the time to dust it off and use it! You’ll need three or four pounds of carrots to make three cups of juice.

2 medium firm-ripe Hass avocados
3 cups fresh carrot juice (see note, above)
¾ tsp salt
5 tsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp finely grated peeled fresh ginger
A pinch of good-tasting curry powder
Crunchy sea salt, such as Maldon or fleur de sel

Quarter the avocados; then pit and peel them.

In a blender, purée 1 avocado with the carrot juice, salt, 4 tsp of the lime juice, and the ginger until very smooth.

Cut the remaining avocado into small dice, and gently toss with the remaining teaspoon of lime juice, curry powder, and a pinch of sea salt.

Serve the soup with a generous spoonful of the seasoned avocado dice.

Yield: About 4 appetizer-size servings


Anonymous bea at La tartine gourmande said...

I know I would love this soup. Only looking at the color ;-) And I have everything to make it, including loving to make carrot juice!

2:13 AM, August 09, 2006  
Anonymous LPC said...

I'm the same way with you about cold soups... I've always had hot soups in Singapore even though it's hot all year round. And here in Europe, everyone raves about the Spanish-style cold gazpacho on hot summer days and it sells like hot cakes (;-p) in the summer time. I've tried gazpacho once and have stayed off cold soups since, but now that you've made this cold soup, I'm tempted to try cold soups one more time... when the weather gets hot again, and only something cold will do.

3:58 AM, August 09, 2006  
Anonymous Tanna said...

Easy. Looks like it.
Good. Looks like it.
Yes, Brandon - better than the sum of it's parts.

5:18 AM, August 09, 2006  
Anonymous Nicky said...

Hi Molly,
This color is so beautiful, the organge literally jumped at me! While I do understand the need for some cold soup during summer, we got the need for some hot soup over the weekend... The temperature dropped almost 20 degrees (Celsius), from "I can't sleep 'cause it's too hot" to "Could we turn on the radiator?".
If - I'm not very confident though - summer returns, I'd love to try your cold soup!

5:25 AM, August 09, 2006  
Blogger Michèle said...

Molly, I'm with you on the cold soup thing. I still sometimes have trouble with gazpacho.. but this carrot soup sounds simple and lovely--and I am a big fan of adding avocado to garnish a soup (have done so on aforementioned gazpacho). It sounds like the avocado would go wonderfully with carrot soup. I'm not sure I'll find a big bunch of organic carrots as cheaply as you did but I'll keep my eyes out--either way, I've got carrot soup on the brain now..

5:44 AM, August 09, 2006  
Blogger wheresmymind said...

I like the concept of cold soup much more than implementation...I made some gazpacho last week and although good, it's not my fav.

6:06 AM, August 09, 2006  
Anonymous ann said...

I hear you about the cold soup conundrum Molly. It was only this summer that I discovered that they're not all awful be they vege, fruit or, heh, almonds!
I'll have to look and see if I have this issue of Gourmet in my "pile of inspiration"

6:26 AM, August 09, 2006  
Blogger AnnieKNodes said...

I'm exactly of your mind, er, mindS when it comes to cold soup. I like the refreshment of gazpacho, but part of me always feels like I'm eating salsa with a spoon. But if you say this is good, and we're pretty simpatico re: cold soups, then by golly, Molly, I'm gonna try it!

6:32 AM, August 09, 2006  
Blogger Monisha said...

Hi Molly -

I've been by your blog dozens of times, and have been a lurker in the past - so it is about time I commented on how much I enjoy reading your blog. I enjoy your recipes, cold carrot soup being a perfect example - simple, satisfying and not to mention healthy. Looking forward to trying it out soon !

6:52 AM, August 09, 2006  
Blogger hannah said...

ah summer, thank you for putting us in a fresh, light frame of mind. the soup looks so very lovely, must try this.

7:29 AM, August 09, 2006  
Blogger Funky Finds said...

Sounds delish! I tried gaspacho (sp?) for the first time Sunday & loved it.

8:06 AM, August 09, 2006  
Anonymous lisa said...

mmm- love warm carrot-ginger soup and now have to try the summer alternative- as soon as the heat turns back on here in Seattle!

and speaking of garlic knots, there's an easy recipe in July's Gourmet.

8:32 AM, August 09, 2006  
Anonymous Nicolette said...

I was eyeing that recipe also, glad to know it yielded such wonderful results! And it looks gorgeous! Cold soup has been on my mind alot lately, what with the incessant heat. What do you think about cold fruit soups? Johan really loves "nypon soppa" or rosehip soup, though its only available here in a poweded form and is more like a smoothie to me, still yummy though. But weird to eat out of a bowl! Anyhow, I'm looking forward to giving this a try.

9:29 AM, August 09, 2006  
Blogger Lily said...

oh my flipping gawd. i'm so making this.

9:48 AM, August 09, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Bea, I know - isn't the color amazing? I just can't get over how vibrant and saturated it is. Oh, and it tastes awfully good too.

LPC, I hear you. And when the hot weather returns, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on this soup. If I may, I would advise starting with a small portion. There's just something about cold soups: even though I love the flavor and texture of this one, it starts to trigger a weird "Aaaaargh, cold soup!" reaction in me if I eat too much. A little at a time, a little at a time...

You've got it, Tanna!

Nicky, I hope your summer returns - and not only because this soup is worthy of a go. It's just too soon for summer to be over! I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you and your radiator.

Michele, I'm so glad to know that I'm not alone! Sounds like we're sisters in the cold soup department. If you do try this one, yep, load up on the avocado, and then let me know what you think, s'il te plait.

Wheresmymind, you're in good company here...

So, Ann, do tell: what type of cold soup was it that finally won you over? I'd love to know - and to try it!

Please do, AnnieKNodes, and please let me know what you think! I'll keep my fingers crossed that it's not a "salsa with a spoon" experience.

Thank you, Monisha. Lovely to meet you!

Hannah, I know what you mean - a fresh, light frame of mind is exactly what I want right now too. Lots of fresh tomatoes, green beans, juicy nectarines, and, of course, carrots and avocados...

Funky Finds, it sounds as though you have conquered the hurdle of cold soups! And I dare say that this one is a very good follow-up to that gazpacho.

Lisa, we're in luck - I think the heat is coming back at full throttle this weekend. And as for those garlic knots, thank you for the tip! Now that you mention it, I do remember seeing that recipe...

Nicolette, you know, hmmm, I sort of feel as though cold fruit soups are another thing entirely. To my palate, they work a lot better than (most) cold savory soups, if only because they remind me of smoothies, as you said, or fruit coulis, or melted sorbet, or the liquid leftover after poaching pears or other fruits. Know what I mean? They feel more familiar. I can't really say much about a rosehip version, though, because I've never tasted one. Another thing to add to the "to try" list! Oh, and about this issue of Gourmet, I'm curious about the apple-and-celery gazpacho recipe on the same page. Have you tried it?

Lily, you're too funny. Hurry up and get in that kitchen.

3:39 PM, August 09, 2006  
Anonymous Emily said...

I love cold soups although I usually like the ones that are cooked first and then chilled (which rather defeats the purpose). My grandmother used to make a fantastic chilled creamy zucchini soup which I make now and reminds me of her. I also like Gazpacho although only when it is made well. I love carrots soups so I will definitely try this one when it warms up here.

5:14 PM, August 09, 2006  
Anonymous Laurie said...

I haven't eaten many cold soups, but one that I've enjoyed is the spicy melon soup at Matt's in the Market. It's a daily special in the summer, and is a great prelude to a hot catfish sandwich (one of my favorite summer lunches). When I had lunch there recently the sandwich of the day was salmon BLT, so Matthew and I each had half of each--best fish sandwich ever! (The melon soup was great too.)

6:45 PM, August 09, 2006  
Anonymous Laura said...

Molly - hello from a long time lurker, first time commenter! I would have never thought to add avocado to a soup, but what a good idea, I would imagine it lends velvety smoothness, creaminess and richness to the recipe. I'm still not sold on the cold soup idea though, but if the hot weather comes back I may give it a go (I'm in Vancouver BC, so we get all the same heat waves as you!)

7:14 PM, August 09, 2006  
Anonymous Nicolette said...

I haven't tried that one yet either, though now I must! Oddly enough, I was eating lunch today and reading the food section of the Los Angeles Times, an article on summer's bounty which had a recipe for yep, you guessed it, cold soup. Cucumber gazpacho to be precise, it looked beautiful! Another thing to add to the pile of things to try.

7:51 PM, August 09, 2006  
Blogger Natalia said...

Hmmm, I've never been much of a carrot person, particularly in juice form. But the color of that soup is just so beautiful and enticing! I bet the ginger, lime, and curry flavors make it taste less raw carrotty. Maybe if I find some really cheap carrots... ;)

8:09 PM, August 09, 2006  
Blogger plumpudding said...

Hi Molly,

I have never had cold soup before, it is something we just don't really do down here (Australia) and I have to be honest, the thought of it doesn't strike me as appetising. However avocado is in my top 5 favourite foods and I am always up for trying anything once so I'm willing to give this recipe a shot once our summer rolls around. Thanks for the inspiration.

4:05 AM, August 10, 2006  
Blogger Shari said...

hi molly,
i love cold fruit soups but have never really cared for cold savory soups. however, the color and the ingredients in this cold soup have me excited to give it a try! tom is always bringing home tons of organic carrots...if only we had a juicer. :) xo shari

7:14 AM, August 10, 2006  
Anonymous ann said...

hey molly
go figure, but it was a cold almond soup
i'm beginning to think i might be obsessed with cold, salty almonds!

7:57 AM, August 10, 2006  
Blogger Alice Q said...

Wow Molly, that looks great, and it must be absolutely packed with nutrients! I feel exactly the same way about cold soups - sometimes the texture and flavors just don't work, but I would try this if I had a juicer. It also sounds like it would be fun for a dinner party, because everyone would ooh and ah over the color.

10:49 PM, August 10, 2006  
Blogger amylou said...

Well, Molly, I admit that when I first saw this title I thought, "traitor!" -- I thought you were on my side about the grossness of cold soup. I recovered when I read about your initial hesitation and by the end of your post I was chastising myself for not having a juicer. You're quite persuasive, my dear.

8:53 AM, August 11, 2006  
Blogger Julie said...

I feel very much the same about cold soup, but I, too, would try anything involving a combo of ginger, curry and avocado...I guess new things can be wonderful!

12:21 PM, August 11, 2006  
Blogger kickpleat said...

i'm not a fan of cold soups but this soup looks just right. beautiful colour and lovely photos!

1:47 PM, August 11, 2006  
Anonymous Ellie said...

The perfect summer dish - the colour is breath-taking!

11:38 PM, August 11, 2006  
Blogger JessieGirl said...

I'm ok on the cold soup front but not so into carrot flavored anything. That being said, the color of this soup is so amazing that I'd have to give it a try.

11:45 AM, August 12, 2006  
Blogger ASMO said...

Now that you have been convinced of the cold soup's qualities, you could always do like many people do in Spain and sip your chilled soup from a glass, Gazpacho-style...

10:26 AM, August 13, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Emily, I know that I'm woefully late in replying to your comment, but should you happen to see this, would you please - pretty please - consider sharing your grandmother's creamy zucchini soup recipe? It sounds wonderful.

Laurie, would you believe that I've never been to Matt's in the Market? More than a few friends and acquaintances have told me to hurry over there, but when an appropriate time comes, I never seem to think of it. That spicy melon soup sounds like a good reason to get myself in gear once and for all - as do the catfish sandwich and salmon BLT! Must. Remember. Matt's in the Market!

Laura, our forecast shows mid-80s, I think, for the rest of this week. Cold soup time, perhaps?

Oh, Nicolette, the pile grows ever larger! That cucumber gazpacho sounds very worthy of a go...

Natalia, I hope you like it! I'd be curious to hear your thoughts, if you do find those cheap carrots...

plumpudding, I understand completely. There is something about cold soup that seems, well, wrong. But I do hope that you give this a try, given the presence of avocado and all...

So, dear Shari, got that juicer yet? xo!

Ann, is that cold almond soup on your blog? It sounds so interesting!

Alice Q, I thought the same thing - this would be really perfect for a dinner party. A very festive opener, and very light on the palate too, not to mention tasty...

Amy, I'm so sorry for giving you a scare! I would have never knowingly betrayed you, my friend - not even for something as pretty as this soup. Peace? [C'mon, I'm so persuasive!] xo!

Julie, I hear you. There's just something about avocado, not to mention ginger and curry. Gets me (almost) every time.

Thank you, dear kickpleat.

Aww, thanks, Ellie!

JessieGirl, I know - that color is pretty convincing, eh? It makes me think that it might be time to whip up another batch, actually.

Excellent suggestion, ASMO - this would be so pretty in a glass.

2:29 PM, August 17, 2006  
Blogger Miz Hatbox said...

I don't have a juicer but PCC is right around the corner, so I've got a big thing of Odwalla carrot juice in the fridge now. I'm going to try this soup tonight even though it isn't a hot day.

I love gazpacho--my mom used to make it regularly in the summer when I was a kid--but these days sodium always gets me. I'll have to try the cucumber gazpacho if it isn't very salty.

and I have a confession: as long as I'm not double-dipping in a serving dish (and as long as nobody's around to see me), I don't exactly see the problem with salsa-by-the-spoon. The salsa is better than the chips, and certainly healthier than the chips. Why not cut out the middleman?

5:12 PM, August 23, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

So, how was the soup, Miz Hatbox? I hope you liked it. And as for your salsa-by-the-spoon stance, I know what you mean - salsa is certainly tasty enough to be eaten on its own, with a spoon or otherwise. For me, though, it just doesn't quite do the trick. I'm one of those who is awfully fond of the chip part of the equation, so for as much as I love salsa, I want the chips to go with!

11:39 AM, August 24, 2006  
Blogger Miz Hatbox said...

It was fantastic, though apparently I am the only one in the family who thinks so. My husband feels as you do about cold soups, my daughter doesn't like carrot juice, Mom doesn't care for avocado, and on and on. Oh well, more for me. :-)

But...hmmm... I bet if I left out the diced avocado and served the ginger/lime/pureed avocado/carrot juice in glasses and called it a "gingered carrot smoothie", I bet it would go over much bigger.

Come to think of it, I've been looking for some way to add a little more creamy bulk to smoothies without resorting to ice cream...and I've been looking for something to do with all those avocados that come in my Root Connection share... OMG! Avocados in smoothies! I will have to try that! (when the family isn't looking, of course)

10:05 AM, August 26, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Ah well, Miz Hatbox, as you said, that just means more soup for you! It sounds as though you have a winning plan for next time, though, what with that sneaky smoothie title. [Unless, of course, you want to keep calling it soup so you can hoard it for yourself!] As for avocados in smoothies in general, it sounds like pure genius. Along those lines, have you seen this?

10:17 PM, August 26, 2006  
Blogger Lindsay said...

I just have to ask. Is that an abused-into-complete-submission turquoise pyrex bowl? It's an uncanny semblance but I can't imagine how the bowl got to that state!

9:24 PM, December 29, 2008  
Blogger PeconicPuffin said...

Almost four years after your original post, and it's 101 degrees in New York City. Googling chilled soups I ended up on your site, and just finished a wonderful cool bowl. The lime/ginger zing is just perfect. Will be making this again!

5:10 PM, July 06, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a question. Is it ok to make the gingered carrot soup with avacado, a day a head of serving?

12:09 PM, June 18, 2011  
Blogger Molly said...

Anonymous, I apologize for not replying sooner! I've never made this soup ahead of time, to be honest, so I'm not sure how it would keep. But if I were you, I would try it. I'll bet it would be just fine.

7:58 PM, June 22, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the inspiration!


9:29 PM, June 27, 2011  

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