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A cool soup for a hot day
(article, Deborah Madison)
Recently, I cooked lunch for about 30 people on a roaring-hot August day, which meant that a cold soup was in order — and it was a logistical necessity!
The farmers' market was loaded with cucumbers, and I even had a few of my own ready to pick. I started out with one of my own recipes, but I’m not really very good at following them. Invariably I just go forth and improvise, which you can do very easily with a cucumber soup.
The important thing is not to be shy about going overboard in the herb department — and with cucumber, for that matter. Use handfuls! You want to end up with a pale-green soup that’s flecked with green herbs. And you want one that has plenty of flavor.
[%image feature-image float=right width=400 caption="Red quinoa adds body to cucumber soup."] Cucumber soup is easy to make, and it’s great to have a pitcher of this cooling beverage waiting for you in the fridge.
# First, fill a blender jar with peeled, roughly chopped cucumbers. Then pour in a quart of yogurt. (I prefer a rich, whole-milk yogurt.) Whirl away until green and smooth. Pour most of it in a bowl.
# Add a few handfuls of herbs to what’s left, including all or some of the following: dill, parsley, lovage, mint, and cilantro. Also pour in a few tablespoons of olive oil (a lemon-flavored one is good) and a scant teaspoon of salt. Purée until flecked with green, then add to the rest of the soup.
# Stir in the finely grated zest of two lemons and the juice of one. Taste for salt and lemon, adding more of each if needed. Refrigerate, preferably overnight so the flavors can build.
# To give your soup some texture — otherwise, it’s just a smoothie — cook some grain. I like red quinoa, rice, and farro. Regardless, cook your grain, and then, while it’s warm, toss it with a little olive oil and season it with salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Let it cool, then add a tablespoon or two to each serving. Drizzle a few drops of lemon olive oil over the surface, and there you are.
p(bio). Deborah Madison is the author of numerous award-winning cookbooks, including Local Flavors. She lives in New Mexico.