Flecked with plump tomato chunks, fresh cucumbers, sweet onions and bold peppers, gazpacho is summer's quintessential cold soup. Both the flavor and texture are refreshing alternatives to winter's hearty hot stews and the soup's familiar, salsa-like taste is palatable, even to the unadventurous.
But gazpacho isn't the only cool kid chilling on Soup Street. A number of Treasure Valley restaurants are now offering more eclectic chilled soups--everything from chilled cherry to chilled curried carrot.
"We've had a few people not necessarily turn their noses up, but give us strange looks at first, mainly with some of the soups we came up with, like watermelon gazpacho," explained Joe Leseberg, 36th Street Garden Center and Bistro chef.
But after preaching the cold-soup gospel for the past couple of years, Leseberg said his customers are now more willing to try whatever he whips up.
"Cold soup has been one of those things where you have to start slow, you have to do something familiar, and then after you gain the trust of your clientele, you can go off and do other things like chilled cherry soups, or chilled peach soups or we've done chilled almond soups," said Leseberg.
Jenny's Lunch Line is also leaning heavily on cold soups this summer, serving a rotating lineup that includes a pineapple and avocado soup with a pumpkin seed garnish and chilled peach soup with a raspberry coulis.
"Next month, we're trying a chilled edamame and arugula--doesn't that sound good? ... It gets kind of creamy because of all the oils, and emulsifies, so it looks like a cream soup but there's no cream in it," said Diane Dalton of Jenny's Lunch Line.
Though Dalton said she occasionally gets a request to heat up a chilled soup, for the most part, customers have embraced the trend.
"We do some that border on sweet and savory. Next month, one of our really popular ones that we do at Alive After Five is mango gazpacho, and it has jalapenos and basil and Thai spices," said Dalton. "We also do a Thai watermelon that also has those hot and sweet flavors."
And while adding cold soups to the menu has allowed Dalton to stretch her creative muscles, it's also been a smart business move for a spot that is a go-to soup destination in the winter months.
"We've got to try to keep our business in the summer," noted Dalton.