Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cucumber Soup

Right around this time last year, Scott and I made a batch of cucumber soup (read about it here), and lately we've been dreaming of making it again. It's easy and tasty and would have been the perfect thing last night, when we both got home from our respective Ultimate practices sweaty, hungry and tired.

This morning I hunted through my e-mail and found the recipe that we used last year! It's one that Lynne Rossetto Kasper published in her weekly "Splendid Table" e-mail. Without further ado, I present "Cool Cucumber Soup with a Cucumber-Herb Relish." Bon appetit!
July 12, 2006

Dear Friends,

We who dream up recipes for a living can fantasize all we want about America waiting breathlessly for yet another summer gem from our kitchens. Real world right now is, "Once I get home I want to stick my head in the refrigerator, then take an ice bath, then order in pizza, and hope no one will complain."

This soup might change some of that anticipation. You could have it waiting in the refrigerator, along with cheeses, crackers, watermelon and lemonade. No stove, no work, and if you serve on paper plates, no clean up. Then take the ice bath.

Cool Cucumber Soup with a Cucumber-Herb Relish

Excerpted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. © 2006 by Deborah Madison. Used with permission of Broadway Books, New York. All rights reserved.

Makes 3 to 4 cups

This herb-green froth of a soup can be whipped together in a blender in moments, then chilled until serving. Served in glasses, it makes a refreshing way to begin a summer dinner, and it's a great convenience to have on hand in the refrigerator for a quick lunch or an afternoon bite.

A cucumber soup can be led in many directions. You can allow dill to predominate and garnish it with dill flowers, use a mixture of herbs as is done here, or use chives with a leaf or two of lovage, the perfect cucumber herb in my opinion. If you want the snap of chile, add minced jalapeƱo and lime.

The Soup:

* 2 pounds cucumbers
* 1 cup buttermilk, whole-milk yogurt, sour cream, or a mixture
* 1/2 cup coarsely chopped herbs, including basil, dill, cilantro, and lovage
* Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
* Zest and juice of 2 lemons, or to taste

The Cucumber Relish:

* 2 tablespoons minced chives or scallions
* 1 tablespoon minced dill
* 2 tablespoons each finely chopped basil and cilantro
* 1 lovage leaf, finely slivered
* 2 teaspoons olive oil

1. Peel and seed the cucumber. Use one to make a cup of small dice and set it aside, then coarsely chop the rest. Puree in a blender or food processor with the buttermilk, chopped herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the zest and juice from 1 lemon. Chill.

2. Just before serving, toss the reserved diced cucumber with the herbs, a few pinches of salt, the olive oil, and the remaining lemon juice and zest.

3. Taste the soup for salt, pepper, and acidity, adding more lemon juice if needed, then serve in chilled bowls with the cucumber-herb relish.


* Lovage has a flavor similar to celery, but bolder and spicier.
* Go for especially sweet cucumbers for this dish. The season is high, and stubby pickling cucumbers and the unfortunately named "burpless," or classier sounding "English" cukes can be treats. Don't wash produce before storing. If you seal whole cukes in bags, pressing out all the air, they will hold in the refrigerator a week.
* Even if it hasn't been possible in the past, it is time to buy organic directly from local farmers. If it's abundant and local, organic prices should be lower than at any other time of the year.

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