The big chill: Skye Gyngell's blissed-out bowls of cool soup for warm spring evenings

Here are three soups that are good to eat right now. Filled with seasonal ingredients, they make for a lighter dinner as the evenings get warmer. All should be served chilled – so you can make them in the morning and keep in the fridge until you are ready to eat. All are made with water rather than stock – though this in no way compromises the intensity of their flavour. These recipes are designed for four people, so multiply the quantities if you have more guests. Serve with bread and a salad or a plate of warm asparagus.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, petershamnurseries.com

Cucumber, tomato and bread soup

This soup is a little like gazpacho, though without ingredients such as onions and almonds. The quality of the ingredients is important – the tomatoes should be sweet and ripe, and the bread textured and dry. It needs to be made on the day of eating or it will lose its fresh, sharp, clean taste.

5 very ripe tomatoes
2 small, firm cucumbers
1 garlic clove
4 slices of day-old ciabatta
2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
2 tsp cool water
1 generous bunch of basil, leaves only
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slice the tomatoes in half, scoop out the seeds and cut into small, rough pieces. Slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise, cut out the seeds and chop finely. Peel and chop the garlic. Place in a large bowl and toss.

Remove the crusts from the bread then tear into one-inch pieces and drizzle over the vinegar, along with two teaspoons of cool water. Allow to soak for five to 10 minutes. Squeeze out the bread and add to the bowl. Chop the basil leaves roughly and stir through. Now pour over the oil and add a good pinch of salt and plenty of pepper. Give it one final stir and serve.

Chilled beetroot soup with crème fraîche

Sweet and sharp, this beautifully coloured soup is tempered by a final teaspoon of crème fraîche placed casually in the centre just before serving. Serve well chilled, as it tastes fresher that way.

5 firm, medium-sized red beetroots
1 medium red onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 knob of unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp red-wine vinegar
1 litre/13/4 pints of water
4 tbsp crème fraîche

Scrub the beetroots clean under cold running water. Place in a saucepan and add enough cold water to cover comfortably. Add a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Once the water has boiled, turn down the heat and cook until the beetroots are tender when pierced with a knife – this will take about 45 minutes. Once the beetroot is cooked, remove from the heat and drain. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then peel off the skin – it will come away easily. Finely chop and set aside.

Place the onions in a pan with a knob of unsalted butter, season and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the vinegars and cook for a further five minutes then remove from the stove and allow to cool.

Now put the onions and beetroot in a food processor along with the water and blend until smooth, then place in a bowl and chill well in the fridge. When ready to serve, stir once or twice, and taste and adjust the seasoning as you see fit. Ladle into chilled soup plates and finish with a dollop of crème fraîche. Serve at once.

Pea and mint soup

This soup tastes of springtime – peas and mint are a perfect marriage. It is pale and creamy in colour, with just the odd pea dotted here and there for texture and surprise. English peas are at their best right now – sweet and tender. Buy them still in their pods wherever possible.

500g/1lb peas, podded
200ml/7fl oz water
1 medium bunch of mint, leaves only
150ml/5fl oz double cream
A few drops of lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place a pot of well-salted water on to boil. Once boiling, add the peas and cook for one minute. Drain but do not refresh with cold water. Set aside a third of the peas to add to the soup just before serving. Once cooled, put the rest of the peas into a food processor and blend with the water and mint leaves. When smooth, pour into a bowl and stir in the cream, lemon juice and plenty of salt and pepper. Chill in the fridge and serve in chilled soup plates, scattering the remaining peas over the top. Serve with fresh, crusty bread and plenty of unsalted butter. Add a simple green salad and you have a light and perfect meal.

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