Friday, August 30, 2013

Cool as a Cucumber

When it's hot outside, as it is now, cool, refreshing foods and drinks are so satisfying. And when it is this hot, we often don't feel like turning on the stove for fear of making the house even hotter. 

As wildfires rage on all over the West, just the thought of those firefighters having to deal with this makes me uncomfortable, but sometimes I do feel like I'm sweating all the time.

A cold soup is ideal for days like these. I know it sounds weird, but if you've never had it, you might want to try this one. It's refreshingly cool ingredients work harmoniously to keep you cool. I like it with a variety of cold salads for lunch, or before grilled chicken in lieu of a salad. I plan to make this on Labor Day before I grill some fish.

Chilled Cucumber Soup

2-3 English cucumbers
1/4 cup chopped parsley
4 scallions, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 quart buttermilk
1/2 pint each of plain yogurt and sour cream, or use 1 pint Greek yogurt
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Peel cucumbers and cut them in half, scraping out the seeds. Using English cucumbers makes this step easier, since they have far fewer seeds than regular cucumbers. Sprinkle the cucumbers with salt and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain excess water.

Chop the cucumbers coarsely and put the pieces in a food processor or blender along with everything else. Blend at high speed until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Chill well before serving.

Garnish with tiny minced cucumbers, bay shrimp or sprigs of dill or a combination of those.

NOTE: The soup can be made a few days in advance, allowing the flavors to meld. It actually benefits from it.

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