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Too Hot to Grill Out? Chill Out — With 3 Cold Soup Recipes

Chilled Antipasti Soup, Three Main-Course Chilled Soups Recipes by Pam Anderson

Chilled antipasti soup is perfect for a hot summer evening, and it can be refrigerated for up to two days before serving.

As I write, the high in my town is 91 degrees — and that's down from 97 degrees earlier this week. On days like these, I choose one of two food-prep options — grill it or chill it. Since many of my recent recipe selections have been grill-themed, this week I offer a trio of refreshing cold soups, perfect for these hot, sweltering days.

You can make Quick Classic Gazpacho with fresh tomatoes, but the moment you refrigerate the soup, the fresh tomatoes' texture starts to suffer. Using canned petite-diced not only solves the texture problem, it saves time too. Adding diced avocado to the soup takes it from a light first course to a substantial main course. If you don't eat it all in one sitting, it's fine: The acid in the tomatoes and vinegar keeps the avocados from discoloring.

This time of year you could also make Creamy Cool Corn Soup With Cilantro and Lime using fresh corn. Just cook the ears (you can microwave four ears in six to eight minutes), but you can also thaw a bag of frozen corn to a chilly state, toss it in the blender with a can of creamy light coconut milk, a little jalapeño for kick, and a handful of cilantro sprigs for interest. In seconds you've got a simple soup that tastes like corn straight from the cob.

Chilled Antipasti Soup is one of my favorite cold soups. Like the gazpacho, it's canned-tomato based (one can is pureed for thickness, one can is left whole for chunk) and full of Italian goodies — white beans, olives, artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers. It makes a delicious first course for a summer dinner, but I also enjoy it for lunch with a nice hunk of bread.

As much as I bark about the heat, I love summer. In just a few weeks, I remind myself, the leaves will start to turn, and there will be sweet potatoes and cabbage and long-simmering soups to appreciate. Short days and snow shoveling are coming, so let's soak up the sun.

Quick Classic Gazpacho

Serves 6

Several brands offer jalapeño-flavored petite-diced tomatoes. If you can't find one and want the heat, simply substitute petite-diced tomatoes and a small jalapeño that has been stemmed, seeded and minced.

  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) jalapeño-flavored petite-diced tomatoes, plus 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into small dice (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into small dice (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 small onion, cut into small dice (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted and cut into small dice
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix all ingredients, including a sprinkling of salt and pepper in a large bowl; refrigerate until ready to serve (you can make it several hours before serving).

Creamy Cool Corn Soup With Cilantro and Lime

Makes 1 quart

If you're not a cilantro fan, you can substitute basil. And if you like heat, feel free to add the other half of the jalapeño pepper. You can also strain the soup, but I like the texture of the pureed corn kernels.

  • 1 pound frozen corn, thawed (about 3 cups)
  • 1 can (13.5 ounces) light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 jalapeño, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Place all ingredients, including a sprinkling of salt and pepper, in a blender. Process until creamy smooth, adding a little water to achieve desired consistency; taste and adjust seasonings, including more lime juice, salt and/or pepper. Serve.

Chilled Antipasti Soup

Makes a generous 6 cups, serving 6 to 8

  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) petite-diced tomatoes, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 can (15 to 16 ounces) small white beans, drained but not rinsed
  • 1/2 cup each: finely diced red onion, diced roasted peppers from a jar, chopped pitted kalamata olives and chopped marinated artichoke hearts
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Puree 1 can of the tomatoes along with 1/2 cup water and olive oil in a blender. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in remaining ingredients, including salt and pepper to taste; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (You can prepare it up to 2 days ahead.)

Pam Anderson is a bestselling cookbook author, popular blogger at and AARP's food expert, writing twice monthly.

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