Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cool Cuke Soup

There is an old photo of me at about the age of three in which I am sitting on the porch with my grandfather, and we are both happily munching cucumbers, no doubt right from the garden. His is a whole cuke, his fist wrapped around it as if it were an ice cream cone. Mine is a slice or a spear, I can't remember for sure. (In my other hand is a sucker, proving that I had not quite yet achieved true-believer status.)

This is the scene that comes to mind when I think of cucumbers. I'm not sure where that photo is now, although it must be in one of my mother's albums. Perhaps next year when cucumber season rolls around again, I'll be able to post a digital copy of it here.

Until then, I have to eat all the cucumbers in our CSA box. Luckily, I love them. (As far as garden bounty goes, they're second only to tomatoes if you ask me.) Really, I could just eat all them out of hand like apples, and I think Harry could too. But I can't leave well enough alone. I have to use a recipe. I have to cut and stir and process and ladle and garnish and serve. And then I have to clean up. Someday, I suppose I'll learn to just eat them mess free, but until then, I have to fiddle with a cucumber soup with yogurt and sour cream.

I like to leave the skins on my cukes when I can. Most of those you might get from the supermarket are coated with a food-grade wax or some such thing, and others may have pesticides. This time of year, however, you should be able to get your hands on plenty of locally grown cukes. (Nothing compares to these ultra-fresh babies, really.) Our CSA cucumbers are organic, so I simply wash of the dirt (essence of Mother Earth) and eat the skins. If the cucumbers are large, however, it's likely that the seeds are large, too, so for something like this cucumber soup, I like to remove them. I either quarter the cucumber lengthwise and cut out the seeds on an angle, or, for more fun, I halve them and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.

After that, I can simply chunk them up and toss them in the food processor with the remaining soup ingredients and puree to my heart's content.

The garnish is optional, but adds a bit more flavor and texture. You could also just garnish with pico de gallo or salsa if it's more convenient. It is still summer after all, and you gotta stay cool...and you have to make time for all those other cucumber recipes!

Cold Cucumber Soup
3 cups chopped seeded cucumber
2 cups plain yogurt
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Garnish (optional)
1 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped green onion (scallion)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. Combine all ingredients except those for the garnish in the bowl of a food processor (or you could probably use a blender). Process until well-pureed.

2. Pour into a large bowl, cover and chill at least 1 hour.

3. Combine garnish ingredients. Serve in small bowls topped with the garnish if desired.
Makes 4-5 servings.

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