When it's incredibly hot outside, like it has been this month, standing by a hot stove is not something anyone wants to do. Grilling outside is another option, but when it's too hot to even do that, what do you do? Why not make a no-cook recipe, like a chilled soup? The cooling qualities of a cold soup are perfect on days where you need a refreshing respite from the sweltering heat. And there's no better way to achieve that than with a cold soup.
The tradition of cold, raw soups comes by way of Spain and their famous gazpachos. Originally, the recipe was made with just bread, garlic, and oil (bread and oil were the thickeners and garlic helped cool the body by way of sweating.) After the New World explorations, tomatoes were added to the recipe, creating what we know of today as the classic gazpacho. Many other nations have cold soups too, just think of borscht. In Hungary cucumber soup is very popular during summer. The pairing of cucumbers and yogurt is one that can be found in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisines. This recipe takes inspiration from all of these.
The soup starts with cooling cucumbers and creamy yogurt. Dill serves as the main herb, lending a piny aroma and citrusy flavor. Dried coriander powder adds a flowery flavor and cumin powder adds that musky earthiness, both spices help round out the flavors. Serve this soup very well-chilled. It's pretty poured into bowls or even drinking or shot glasses for an hors d'oeuvre-style presentation. What a great way to cool down on a hot day!
Cold Cucumber Soup
Note: To cut down on chilling time, start with refrigerated cucumbers.
1-1/2 pound English cucumbers, peeled and diced
1 cup yogurt or sour cream
1/2 cup dill
1 small garlic clove, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 to 1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
sliced cucumbers and dill sprigs, for garnish
In a blender jar, combine cucumbers, yogurt, dill, garlic, and spices. Blend until pureed. Add water until desired thickness is achieved. Season with salt to taste, starting with about 1/2 teaspoon. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Garnish with sliced cucumber and sprigs of dill.
Yield: 4 appetizer servings or 8 glass servings.
Joseph Erdos is a New York–based writer and editor, butabove all a gastronomer and oenophile. He shares his passion for foodon his blog, Gastronomer's Guide , which features unique recipes and restaurant reviews among many other musings on the all-encompassing topic of food.
by Chef Mark Shoup