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Ice Soup: For when Chill isn't Cool Enough

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Ice soup - ice cubes suspended in a clear soup with cucumber and sesame seeds.
Photo by Vicky Wasik courtesy of Serious Eats.

Hello! I recently made a hearty vegetable stew, the wintery kind, because it's so easy and because a soup pot like this can make use of so many vegetables. Hot soup in the summer really doesn't bother me. Anyway, I was very hungry, and after my quick-release steam bath (if you know, you know)(also, lol the internet is weird) I ladeled a still bubbling serving into my bowl and threw in a few ice cubes to cool it down, mom-style. It got me thinking: are there any already cold soups that are in fact served with ice? Like a super-chilled, cocktail, but a savory soup? A cold enough food to challenge even the hottest of days? Turns out, ice soup is totally a thing.

While there are plenty of chilled soups out there (long list below), I was determined to find a couple of soup recipes that included actual ice cubes as a part of the serving suggestion. The best example I could find to meet my sudden but rigid criteria is oi naengguk - a chilled Korean ice soup. Similarly, the Persian Abdoogh Khiar is often served with actual cubes. Is it just me, or don't you find it thrilling to see all these photos of soup with literal ice cubes suspended in them?

In the summer, especially during a humid week like this one is destined to be, a hydrating soup like Oi Naengguk seems like the perfect answer to the unrelenting question "What should I cook?".

Oi naengguk - Korean Cucumber Ice Soup. This is the one, you guys.

If you want to see a (great) recipe video for a (vegan) Oi Naengguk, here's one for you. Join me in my internet habits of watching quick cooking videos when I need a break from my actual work. (How nice that in this case, ice soup is work... thanks, Becky :). Here's another video where the creator breaks down the pronunciation, too.

Mul Naengmyeon (물냉면)- A Korean Soup made with cold noodles in a chilled broth, sometimes containing beef and/or Korean radish water kimchi (dongchimi, 동치미).

Hiyajiru - Cold Miso Soup including dashi, cucumbers, sesame seeds, and tons of garnishes. This chilled Japanese soup has my attention!

Cold Nyumen (somen noodles in soup): Another chilled Japanese soup with thin noodles and minimal toppings. Green onions, blanched (sweet potato or otherwise) greens, or shaved cucumbers would make an excellent topping here.

Okroshka Recipe: Russian Summer Soup - Cucumbers, sour cream, tiny diced potatoes that are pre-cooked, dill, and lots of ice water.

Chilled Avgolemono Soup A Greek soup of cucumber, lemon, egg, and rice that can be served hot or cold. This is a Martha Stewart recipe, so take it with a grain of salt if looking for a super authentic version.

Iced Cucumber Soup - To be honest, this recipe seems a little suspect. I'm not sure that I want walnuts in my ice soup. Raisins, yes, maybe, but the walnuts seem like an odd choice. If I was making a cucumber ice soup, I'd definitely stick with the tried and true Oi Naengguk, but adding this here for some general ice-inspo.

Ice Cold Shav Soup - A cold soup made with boiled eggs and sorrel, but easily adaptable with spinach.

Chilled Spring Pea Soup - In case you're looking for a cold-something to do with those VRDNT pea shoots. Zucchini would be great in here, as well.

Chilled Piquillo Pepper Soup with Fresh Bean Salad - This would be a great option for your VRDNT sweet peppers as well as VRDNT long beans.

Avocado Vichyssoise - Traditional vichyssoise is a chilled soup made with potatoes parsnips, chicken stock, and heavy cream, but the addition of avocado seems right for summer and reminds me of the avocado margarita from Curra's, in a good way.

Abdoogh Khiar (Chilled Buttermilk Cucumber Soup) A traditional Persian soup with cucumbers, buttermilk, and served with a dazzling array of toppings like fried pita and a merely of herbs.

Chilled Tomato Basil Soup - No explanation needed

Watermelon Gazpacho - Gazpacho, but with watermelon. Like the name.

White Gazpacho - No tomatoes, but plenty of cukes, alliums, green grapes, slivered almonds, and loads of scallions.

Chilled Melon and Cucumber Soup lime, jalapeno, mint, cilantro, melon, and cucumber. Like a salsa, but a soup.

What I'm eating:

I love getting a good loaf of toothsome bread, like sourdough, fresh from a local bakery. In Fredericksburg near where I live, there's really just one baker using heirloom grains and baking the kind of bread I'm talking about. (Here's a story I wrote about that one bakery - JoJu Bakery - if you're curious.) If you're in Austin, there are loads of amazing sources for this kind of bread, and I encourage you to simplify at least one week night dinner, and just eat the bread. I love the subsequent meals after I get a fresh loaf of bread, or two, which is more often the amount I usually buy because we just love it so much.

This go-round, we ate a whole loaf tearing off hunks and dunking it in olive oil throughout the afternoon. When I realized the loaf was suddenly halfway gone, I made a more composed piece of tomato toast. Instructions: Grate 1 tomato, and put it in a small strainer with some salt. Toast a slice of bread, butter it, and then rub a clove of garlic over the abrasive, buttery skin while still hot. I saw this recipe originally on Instagram, but turns out it's actually a Spanish dish called "Pan Con Tomate".

The second loaf of bread got grilled, then eaten with some spicy mustard, tinned mussels(these, yum), and the last of my VRDNT cukes.


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