The coolest member of the humble gourd family makes a refreshingly sweet summer soup that will take the sweat out of summer and keep you hydrated in a tasty way
By Louise Crosby
It’s scorching in Ottawa this week. Temperatures in the 30s, lots of humidity, no breeze. Walking to the store in the middle of the afternoon, I am blasted by the heat shimmering off the sidewalk. It’s mid-summer, after all. This is how it should be.
Personally I like it. If you get the weeding and the errands done early, you can spend the hot hours reading in a cool room. Or you can take in a late afternoon movie with friends followed by dinner out, all in air-conditioned comfort, returning home in time to water the garden in the cool of the evening. Bedtime, you open the windows and put on a fan.
Times like this I make cold soup, in this case cucumber soup, chunks of market-fresh cucumber blended with plain yogurt, lots of mint and dill, hints of garlic, onion and lemon juice, and some olive oil. There is nothing more refreshing than a bowl of this, icy cold from the refrigerator, garnished with more crunchy minced cucumber and red onion. It’s refreshing and also very healthy.
This recipe comes from Food and Wine magazine, with some tweaking of the herbs. The original calls for dill, parsley and tarragon, but when I made it following these instructions I missed the cool, clean taste of fresh mint, a classic ingredient in cucumber soup. So I made it again, this time putting my own garden mint centre stage, followed by dill and parsley. I used local field cucumbers from the farmers market because they are in season. I also went for regular, full-fat yogurt because I prefer it to Greek and because I didn’t want a thick soup. I want to drink this stuff.
So here you go. Make this soup before the next cold front rolls in, which could be any day given the northern country we live in. Get up early and buzz up a batch, let it chill until you’re so sizzling hot you can’t stand it anymore and just have to pour yourself a bowl.
Cold Cucumber Soup
2 large English cucumbers (2¼ pounds), halved and seeded—1/2 cup finely diced, the rest coarsely chopped
1½ cups plain yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove
⅓ cup fresh mint, packed
¼ cup fresh dill, packed
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Salt (I used 1½ teaspoons)
Fresh ground pepper
½ red onion, finely chopped
In a blender, combine the coarsely chopped cucumber with the yogurt, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, mint, dill, parsley, and the ¼ cup of olive oil. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Season the soup again just before serving. Pour the soup into bowls. Garnish with the finely diced cucumber, red onion and a drizzle of olive oil and serve.
Makes 5 cups