Cold soups: the ideal summer Shabbat dinner or lunch



Cold soups are ideal for summer Shabbat dinners or lunches. They are made in advance, provide cooling sustenance in hot weather and have long been a part of the global Jewish kitchen.

The buttermilk soup recipe combines Eastern European and Near Eastern flavors. Cauliflower replaces rice in an otherwise traditional Jewish Greek egg and lemon recipe, creating a hearty, parve and grain-free soup.

Cold dulls flavors, so be sure to taste and adjust seasonings again just before serving.

Both soups are tangy and can be served as starters or main courses.

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Buttermilk Soup with Cucumbers

Serves 4 as starter, 2 as main course

5 Persian cucumbers (1 lb.), divided

2 cups whole or low-fat buttermilk (preferably cultured)

1 cup vegetable broth, chilled

¼ tsp. minced garlic

½ tsp. salt, plus more if desired

⅛ tsp. ground cumin

⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon

⅛ tsp. ground cardamom

¼ tsp. sugar, optional

1 Tbs. finely chopped dill

Garnishes, optional (see below)

Scrub cucumbers but do not peel. Chop 4 cucumbers into ¼-inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, buttermilk, broth, garlic, salt, cumin, cinnamon and cardamom. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or up to 1 day in advance so flavors have blended and the soup is very cold. Taste and add sugar, and additional salt if necessary.

Finely chop the remaining cucumber for garnish. Serve chilled soup in individual bowls garnished with cucumber and dill. If desired, top with optional garnishes.

For garnishes, try sprinkling on one or more of these: chopped green onions, paprika or freshly ground black pepper.

Greek Cauliflower Lemon & Egg Soup

Serves 8 as starter, 4 as main course

3 large lemons

4 cups vegetable broth

2 cups water

1 lb. cauliflower florets (about 4 to 5 cups)

2 Tbs. large, whole peeled garlic cloves

¼ tsp. ground black pepper plus more if desired

⅛ tsp. ground turmeric

3 large eggs, beaten

¼ tsp. salt plus more if desired

¼ cup finely chopped fresh dill and/or flat-leaf parsley

Garnishes, optional (see below)


Scrub 1 lemon. Cut off 2 thin pieces of peel (without white pith), each about 1-by-2 inches. Set peel aside. Juice that lemon with the others. Reserve ½ cup of juice.

Place broth and water in large pot. Bring to a simmer. Add lemon peel, cauliflower, garlic, black pepper and turmeric. Return to a simmer. Simmer, covered, until cauliflower mashes with a fork, about 40 minutes. Take pot off heat. Cool until safe to handle. Remove and discard lemon peel. Blend soup until smooth with an immersion blender (or in batches in a regular blender). Return to a simmer.

Put eggs in large bowl. Slowly pour in reserved juice, whisking at the same time. Slowly drizzle in ½ cup soup, whisking constantly. Repeat 3 more times. Whisk until well combined. (This is to prevent eggs from curdling.)

Slowly pour the egg-soup mixture into the simmering (not boiling) soup, whisking continuously. Return soup to a simmer. Simmer uncovered 7 to 10 minutes until it has thickened slightly (it will thicken more as it cools). Do not let soup boil (to prevent curdling). Taste. Add salt and additional black pepper as desired.

Place in an airtight container and refrigerate until cold (about 4 to 6 hours), or for up to 2 days. Stir just before serving. Taste. Add salt if needed. Serve in individual bowls topped with dill, parsley and/or desired garnishes.

For garnishes, try one or more of these: a drizzle of olive oil; a sprinkle of paprika, ground sumac or minced lemon zest; a dollop of harissa or hot sauce; or a scattering of chopped tomatoes and/or greens.

Note: You’ll need one medium head of cauliflower (about 1¼ lbs. with greens and stem).