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Cooking | Magazine

Recipes: Transform your garden vegetables into refreshing summer soups

For surprisingly refreshing dishes, try Street’s take on a sweet and creamy carrot soup balanced with cilantro, a chilled beet soup, or a dairy-free zucchini soup.

Carrot-lime soup with cilantroConnie Miller/of CB Creatives

The summer heat is coming — but that doesn’t mean soup has to be off the menu just yet. We keep it fresh and light with our take on an Alice Waters recipe: a sweet and creamy carrot soup balanced with cilantro. If the summer heat comes early, try our version of chlodnik, a chilled beet soup from Poland made refreshing with a double shot of acid and cupfuls of ice. And from Mexico, toasted pumpkin seeds lend flavor to a dairy-free zucchini soup whose way of bringing the heat is with green chili peppers.

Carrot-Lime Soup With Cilantro

Makes 4 servings

This creamy yet cream-free carrot soup is a riff on a recipe by Alice Waters. The carrots’ sweetness is grounded by oniony shallot and herbal cilantro, and boldly accented with fragrant coriander, citrusy lime, and spicy chilies. For a colorful, aromatic flourish, we make a simple relish-like garnish with some of the same ingredients in the soup, then drizzle individual bowlfuls with olive oil to add fruity richness.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve


1½ pounds carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons minced, fresh cilantro stems, plus 1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, chopped, reserved separately

1 teaspoon grated lime zest, plus 2 teaspoons lime juice

1-2 Fresno or jalapeño chilies, stemmed, seeded, and minced; divided use

1 large shallot, minced; divided use

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Sour cream or Mexican crema, optional, for garnish

In a large saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the carrots, cilantro stems, lime zest, half of the chili(es), half of the shallot, the coriander, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook while stirring, until the shallot is translucent, 2 to 4 minutes. Add 5 cups water and bring to a boil, then cook uncovered and stir occasionally, until the carrots are tender.


Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the remaining chili, the remaining shallot, the cilantro leaves, and the lime juice; season with salt and pepper, then set aside until ready to serve.

Using a blender, puree the soup in batches until smooth, then return it to the pan. Thin to the desired consistency with water, then season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, then top it with the cilantro mixture, a drizzle of additional oil, and sour cream or Mexican crema, if using.

Polish chilled beet soup (chlodnik).Connie Miller/of CB Creatives

Polish Chilled Beet Soup (Chlodnik)

Makes 4 servings

For our version of chlodnik, we start by cooking raw beets, then add pickled beets later for a quick and easy hit of sweetness and acidity. To offset the earthy beet flavor and striking crimson hue, we garnish the soup with a mix of shredded radishes and cucumber — which we salted, for firmer texture — as well as the pickled beets, dill, and lemon juice.

Pureed with ice, the soup can be on the table in about an hour, but it also can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to a day before serving. The flavor improves as it sits.

Be sure to peel the beets before cooking. The skins can have a bitter flavor and muddy the soup’s color.

1¾ pounds red beets, peeled and thinly sliced

¼ cup cider vinegar

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 bunch radishes, shredded on the large holes of a box grater (1½ cups)


1 small English cucumber, halved, seeded, and shredded on the large holes of a box grater (1½ cups)

¾ cup drained, sliced pickled beets, finely chopped, plus ¼ cup pickled beet juice

3 tablespoons plus ¼ cup fresh dill leaves, chopped

5 tablespoons lemon juice, divided

2 cups ice

Plain whole-milk yogurt or sour cream, to serve

¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives

In a large pot set over medium-high heat, bring 2 quarts water, the beets, the vinegar, 2 tablespoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper to a boil. Cook, adjusting the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer, until the beets are tender, 30 to 60 minutes (the timing depends on the thickness of the slices and age of the beets). Remove from the heat and let cool for 15 minutes.

While the beets cook, wrap the radishes and cucumber in a kitchen towel and wring out their moisture. In a medium bowl, stir together the radish and cucumber mixture, the pickled beets, 3 tablespoons dill, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Using a slotted spoon, add half of the cooked beets to a blender, along with 1 cup of their cooking liquid, ½ cup of the pickled beet mixture, and half of the ice. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining cooked beets, 1 cup of the cooking liquid, ½ cup of the remaining pickled-beet mixture, and the remaining ice.

To the puree, add 1 cup of the remaining beet cooking liquid (discard the rest), the pickled beet juice, the remaining 3 tablespoons lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Stir to combine, then taste and season with salt.


Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Garnish each with a spoonful of yogurt and the remaining pickled beet mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup dill, the chives, and pepper.

Zucchini and Green Chili Soup

Makes 4 servings

This simple pureed soup is rich and creamy but contains no dairy. Rather, the velvety consistency comes from zucchini cooked until fully tender and toasted pumpkin seeds simmered then pureed with the soup ingredients. To toast the pumpkin seeds, put them in a small skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and fragrant.

Don’t be shy about the heat when cooking the zucchini — putting the slices into smoking-hot oil helps them brown quickly. The goal is to thoroughly tenderize the vegetables so they process into a smooth puree, and to do so as quickly as possible so they retain their fresh flavors.

Though the soup is blended, be sure to finely chop the poblano chili so the pieces are fully softened by the time the zucchini is tender. A conventional blender, not an immersion blender, is the best choice to puree this soup.

2 tablespoons grape-seed or other neutral oil

3 medium zucchini (about 1½ pounds), halved and thinly sliced

1 large poblano chili, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted


1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Diced ripe avocado, to serve

Crumbled tortilla chips, to serve

Lime wedges, to serve

Crumbled queso fresco or hot sauce or both, optional, to serve

In a large Dutch oven set over high heat, warm the oil until barely smoking. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring once or twice, until it begins to brown. Add the poblano, oregano, ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, all but 2 tablespoons of the scallions, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the poblano is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 3 cups water and 1 teaspoon pepper, bring to a simmer, then cook uncovered while stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is just tender, about 4 minutes. Cool uncovered for about 5 minutes.

Using a blender, puree in batches until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and reheat over medium, stirring occasionally. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve sprinkled with the remaining scallions, the remaining pumpkin seeds, avocado, tortilla chips, and, if using, queso fresco and/or hot sauce. Offer lime wedges on the side.

Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.