Three Cool Raw Vegan Soups for the Hottest Days of Summer

A few months ago, before temperatures skyrocketed, I received a copy of Eat Raw, Eat Well, a cookbook by Douglas McNish containing 400 raw, vegan, and gluten-free recipes. I looked at the cover, which pictures swirls of colorful raw vegetable "pasta" shaved from the original plants, an effect surely achieved through the use of a device I definitely don't have among my simple kitchen instruments. I leafed through some of the recipes, spotted words like food dehydrator and mandoline, and quickly decided I would put the book away until another time. Perhaps a time when I had more, well, time on my hands.

Don't get me wrong: Around 80 percent of my calories come from raw foods these days. I'm a big believer; I attribute my awesome record of health and the fact that I've dropped 10 percent body fat over the course of the past year to my vegan and mostly raw diet. Dr. Joel Fuhrman, one of the world's leading authorities on plant-based nutrition and disease prevention, says a diet high in raw foods is "a key feature of an anti-cancer diet style and long life." I love raw foods. I just tend to lean toward improvised salads and smoothies because they don't require any planning.

But the scorching August temperatures and the way my body lotion melts instantly into a slick and sweaty film every time I walk out the door have made me crave some cool and nutritious raw recipes to try to negate the Miami heat. I turned back to the book specifically seeking soups that are best served chilled, and I found just what I was looking for. Here are three of my finds.

Creamy Pea and Mint Soup

(p. 114)

The mint adds an extra-cool heat-beating factor to this soothing and immensely nutritious raw soup.

1/4 cup soaked raw cashews (place nuts in bowl, cover with 1/2 cup water, and let soak for 30 minutes)
3 cups unsweetened almond milk (make your own or buy at the store)
3 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 clove garlic
1 tsp sea salt

Drain cashews. Throw them and all other ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve right away or cover and refrigerate for up to three days. (But most raw-foodists agree that raw vegetable blends are most nutritious immediately after they're prepared.)

Lemon, Cucumber, and Dill Soup (p. 116)

Cucumber offers anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects to calm the agitation of extreme temperatures. This is just an all-around perfect heat-pacifying soup to start off a summer meal or to have by itself as a snack.

2 cups chopped peeled and seeded cucumber
1/2 cup chopped romaine lettuce
1/4 cup filtered water
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil (or substitute 1/3 of a Hass avocado if you are oil-free; increase water slightly as necessary for processing if you do)
1/2 tsp sea salt

Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for one hour, until chilled, before serving. Top with cashew sour cream for an added treat.

Zesty Spinach, Avocado, and Lime Soup (p. 118)

This is like the Corona of raw-vegan soups -- citrusy and simply perfect to sip on a superhot day.

2.5 cups chopped spinach leaves
1.5 cups filtered water
3 tbsp fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 medium Hass avocado
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried dulse flakes (red seaweed; find it at the health food store)
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
pinch cayenne pepper

Put everything in a blender and process until smooth. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to two days.

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