London heatwaves make melts of us all. The London Underground transforms from a hotbox into a hot box; the urge to cook goes out of open windows, and sloth takes over. A counterpoint: a heatwave can be an opportunity to celebrate otherwise glossed over foodstuffs, beyond outstanding ice cream, iced coffee, and weapons-grade milkshakes. Here are six shining examples of one of those foodstuffs, cold soup, a mainstay of gastronomy in countries that regularly take on the sun and win — at least before it takes the whole planet down. Slurp.
This is part of a new series of dish round-ups, based on dishes, neighbourhoods, and situations. Stay tuned for more.
White peach gazpacho at 10 Heddon Street
Chris Leach’s gorgeous, perfectly judged pasta dishes may have been dominating Instagram of late, but 10 Heddon Street’s hidden gem is far lighter on the carbs. White peach lends a delicate, almost floral accent to what can sometimes be a one-note assembly; its pectin makes for a slightly thicker bowlful, too. But the real star is the garnish of salty smoked Marcona almonds dotted across the soup’s surface – elevating what could just be a very bouji smoothie into something deliciously savoury and complex. —GR
10 Heddon Street, W1B 4BX
Tuna tartare with ajoblanco at Trangallán
Ajoblanco traces its origins back to the Roman occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, so it takes real cojones to garnish it with anything other than the customary slices of grape or melon. But soy-and-sesame-seasoned tuna tartare is a Spanish modern classic in its own right, a stalwart in tapas joints inspired by the new wave of gastronomy that swept the nation in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. Putting the two together might seem counter-intuitive, but really it’s a match made in heaven: fatty almonds and lean tuna, sharp garlic and mild sesame oil. And all the components — crucial, this — served very, very chilled. —GR
61 Newington Green, N16 9PX
Gazpacho at Reineta
To some, gazpacho is cold soup’s lowest common denominator, the old-time progenitor of more exciting regional variants that remains manacled to Andalusian tradition. It’s basic, in every sense.
These people are wrong. At Reineta, a newish, Spanish cafe and grocer, there is riffing afoot: tomatoes are macerated overnight with garlic, sherry vinegar, and salt, leaching out that ambrosial juice that gets left in a sad puddle whenever tomato salad comes out. It’s then blended with bread, more vinegar, and green peppers as per tradition, with the maceration tempering the greenness of the pepper for a less bluntly vegetal experience. That blending also includes industrial quantities of fine olive oil, creating a soup hoarse with garlic, bright with tomato, and so rich with that oil that it flows like emulsion paint. —JH
Dickens Yard, W5 2DT
Chilled sweetcorn, ‘Old Bay’ buttered crab, and borage flowers at Duke of Richmond
Tom Oldroyd’s Hackney gastropub has marked itself out by not doing things by halves. Whether in a fine cheeseburger, a crab and chip butty (yes, immaculate bar food), or offering a god-tier trinity of baked and fried snacks (next to the spirits hang Scampi Fries, bacon Wheat Crunchies, and pickled onion Monster Munch.) And so his — and his newly installed head chef, Rami Bastawi’s — cold summer soup is predictably considered, a dish with layman foundations and an anti-pub execution. A small pile of buttered crab, seasoned with celery salt and paprika (Oldroyd’s homemade “Old Bay”) lay surrounded by a smooth, creamy sweetcorn soup, earthy and sweet, and tempered by a refreshing cucumber-y backnote of borage oil; the flowers just make it look more summery. —AC
316 Queensbridge Road, E8 3NH
Gazpacho de Sandía at Tapas Revolution
The velvety gazpacho de sandía on the new summer menu at Omar Allibhoy’s Tapas Revolution is made with heatwaves in mind. Simultaneously refreshing and substantial, the seamless muddle of seasoned tomato, garlic, and peppers is a perfect snack in the sun. A hit of vinegar adds freshness, complementing a spicy sprinkle of chive — while a glimmer of sweet watermelon in the background nicely tempers its piquance. Blood orange sangria adds a further indulgent twist to this liquid lunch. Other dishes are solid examples of communal Spanish fare and, in more clement weather, prawns and octopus are both worth a try. —SV
The Balcony, Westfield London, W12 7GF
Naengmyeon at Han Bar Restaurant & Karaoke
Koreans love to eat to suit the weather: their preferred way is often to fight fire with fire or ice with ice. Naengmyeon is an iced noodle dish that has transcended its humble beginnings as a North Korean dish to use up radish water in the winter and become a summer staple. Han in New Malden offers a very faithful representation of the two major styles, Mul (water) and bibim (means mixed but refers to spicy) in an amusingly gallows inspired restaurant. Chilled noodles, radish, asian pear, beef and an iced broth with banchan (kimchis and other accompaniments) on the side is quite the comfort in the current climes. —FG
Apex Tower, 1 High St, New Malden KT3 4DQ