This is the best time of the year for people who cook. Also for people who eat.


The fields are laden with produce. Vegetables and fruit hang heavy from every leafy branch. Goodness is fresh and abundant.


And with the sun blazing down on us like a broiler, the key is to enjoy all of this wonderful produce and cool down at the same time.


That is where chilled summertime soups come into play. Refreshing and crisp and just a little unusual, cold soups make the best of what summer has to offer.


To get some relief from the heat, I looked to summertime soups. Each took full advantage of the harvest: avocados from the tree, carrots from the ground, tomatoes from the ...


OK, to be honest, the tomatoes came from a can in the form of tomato juice. I got so caught up in the idea of chilled soups that I forgot I was supposed to be using fresh ingredients. But the can was newly purchased, so that’s something. Besides, it has onion in it, and the onion was fresh.


Though it was less straight-off-the-vine than it might have been, the tomato soup — or actually lightly spiced tomato soup — was delightful.


The tomato juice serves as the base, its flavor mellowed and deepened with sautéed onions and vegetable stock (or water, but use the vegetable stock if you have it). Still, the light spices are what make the soup come alive.


With a nod to the Indian subcontinent, the soup is embellished with cumin, turmeric, cardamom and cloves, plus a pinch of cayenne for extra heat.


And if that much heat is too hot for you, especially in the summer, you can cool it off with a spoonful or two of tangy yogurt.


As easy as the tomato soup was to make, I next made one that was even faster and easier. Curried avocado soup does not need to be cooked at all, yet it boasts a big flavor.


All it needs are avocados blended with vegetable stock, with curry powder, heavy cream and salt and pepper mixed in. Chill it and you have a surprisingly good dish.


Surprising, because who would have thought avocados and curry powder would go well together? It’s like hot and cold, night and day, black and white. That’s why you need the cream. It melds, it blends, it softens and tempers, and it makes everything better.


Next up was a cold carrot-coconut soup. The coconut part, fortunately, comes from coconut milk. The other flavors come from ginger and Madras curry powder — two flavors that happen to enhance the taste of both carrots and coconut milk.


The soup is rich and powerfully flavored, so I would recommend it only as appetizer. The only problem is that it is so delicious that it is likely to overshadow anything else that you would serve.


Live it up. This summertime bounty won’t be with us forever.


Lightly Spiced Tomato Soup


1 cup finely chopped onions


1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Pinch cayenne pepper (or 1 seeded and minced small chile)


1 teaspoon ground cumin


1/2 teaspoon turmeric


1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom


1/8 teaspoon ground cloves


6 cups tomato juice (48-ounce can)


1 cup water or vegetable stock


Plain yogurt, for garnish


In a small soup pot, sauté the onion in oil until translucent. Add the cayenne, cumin, turmeric, cardamom and cloves, and sauté another minute, stirring constantly. Add the tomato juice and water, and simmer for about 20 minutes to blend the flavors.


Serve hot or cold, topped with a spoonful of yogurt. Serves 4 to 6.


— From "Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant" by the Moosewood Collective


Curried Avocado Soup


2 medium-ripe Haas (dark-skinned) avocados


21/4 cups vegetable stock, divided


1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder


3/4 teaspoon salt


1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon white pepper


1/2 cup heavy cream


2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Split the avocados in half with a knife and remove the pits. Set aside one half. Scoop out the insides of the other three halves with a spoon and blend with 1 cup of the stock in a blender until smooth. Stir in the curry powder, salt, pepper, cream and the remaining 1 1/4 cups of stock. Chill.


When ready to serve, garnish the soup with thin avocado slices that have been cut from the remaining avocado half and dipped in lemon juice. Serves 4 to 6.


— From "Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant" by the Moosewood Collective


Cold Carrot-Coconut Soup


3 shallots, sliced


2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or other neutral oil, divided


8 large carrots, peeled and sliced


1-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced


Salt and pepper to taste


3 tablespoons Madras curry powder


1 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk


Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish


In a large soup pot over medium-low heat, cook the shallots in 1 tablespoon of the oil until soft, but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the carrots and ginger and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add enough cold water to cover the carrots by 1 inch. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook until the carrots are soft.


In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil with the curry powder. Stir well and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the coconut milk. Cook over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until thickened. Stir into the carrot mixture.


In a blender or food processor, blend in batches until smooth. Pass the soup through a fine-mesh sieve and season.


Store the soup in a covered container in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Serve cold, garnished with cilantro.


— From "Bistro Laurent Tourondel" by Laurent Tourondel and Michele Scicolone