There were days this past week when it was too hot to think about food, much less cook it. I longed to lie around in water, and eat and drink cold stuff. This is the weather that cucumber soup was invented for.
I base my version on the old 1977 vegetarian Moosewood Cookbook recipe made with water and yogurt. Cucumber soup never entered my vocabulary until the 1970s when cold soup generally was a stranger to me, not being sophisticated enough to have encountered Vichyssoise.
I think the first cold soup I ever tasted was a chilled cherry soup. Not long after, I met up with gazpacho, the tomato juice based soup with peppers, cucumber, carrots, and scallions. Some versions of cucumber soup require cooking the cukes, then mashing and chilling them but my version requires nothing more strenuous than putting in time with a blender or food processor.
I used a long European-style cucumber that I bought. Normally I’d use my own homegrown cukes, either the one called Suyo Long or a small pile of pickling cucumbers but this year the hot weather arrived before the cucumbers did. Whatever you choose, round up to the nearest whole vegetable; it’s too hot to lift a measuring cup.
I like a bit of texture in my soup so I grated the cucumber, then pureed a portion of it.
If you prefer a smooth, creamy texture then puree the whole lot. Leave some skin on the cukes because the flecks of green in the soup are pretty.
I used some of the garlic scape pesto I made last week to season it. A classic cucumber soup has chopped dill and mint. I chose cilantro instead. And I pureed some scallion with the cucumber to boost the onion flavor a bit.
Yogurt and water are the soup stock, and if you wish a little more richness, add cream or sour cream. If you don’t have yogurt, use milk or buttermilk adding it until the soup has the consistency you like. For flavor you can add a dab of mayonnaise.
Lastly, you can chill this before serving if you like, but cold suppresses flavor, and as long as the soup is cool or, for this time of year, at least cooler than room temperature, then it will be tastier. Bread, cheese and a bowl of cucumber soup and fresh fruit for dessert ought to minimize your kitchen time, provide a wholesome supper, and keep everyone cool around the supper table.
Cucumber and yogurt soup
Makes three to four servings
1 long European-style cucumber or 2 regular cucumbers
1 cup of yogurt
1 cup of water
1 clove of garlic chopped
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs: fresh dill weed and-or mint or cilantro
Salt and pepper
Using a hand grater or the grater blade on a food processor, process the cucumber until it is all grated, then put it into a bowl. Trim the scallions keeping some of the green portion, and slice thinly. Refit the processor with the regular blade or use a blender to puree half of the grated cucumber with half of the scallions and the garlic. Stir the yogurt and water into the cucumber, add the chopped herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for a couple of hours, taste again, and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Serve garnished with the remaining scallions.