With summer produce just beginning to roll in down here on the coast, it’s time to start collecting some recipes to highlight your favorite garden’s bounty. Here is one of my favorite recipes. It’s quick, easy, as well as cool and refreshing which makes it perfect for the summertime.
There is a Mediterranean restaurant in New Orleans that has been around for a while, and has excellent food. To survive in New Orleans, it must. It has been around for at least 15 years. I usually order a veggie plate, so I can get my fill of hummus, baba ganoush, and tabouli. They have quite a few different salads on their menu. One of them is a “Cucumber Salad”. The first time I ordered it, I was a little surprised, because it came in a bowl and was served with a spoon. A soup. I was expecting more a labne, or tzaziki, instead, I got soup. And, it was delicious. More than just yogurt, there was something in there that was making it soupy, and it wasn’t water. For years, I looked at cucumber soup recipes, and none of them seemed like they would result in a soup like the one I remembered. Until now. This recipe looked like it would come close. And it did. It tastes almost exactly like I remembered the one at the restaurant. Success!
If you like labne, if you like tzaziki, you will like this soup.
Making this just for me, so I cut down on the quantities.
- 2 small or 1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 3 green onions, white and green parts
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint (I used peppermint)
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 cups whole milk yogurt, drained for about 1 hour, or 1 cup greek yogurt
- 1/2 to 1 cup sour cream, optional
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
Place the diced cucumber into a strainer and sprinkle with salt. Let drain for 30 minutes to 1 hour. When ready to use, simply pat dry and squeeze any more moisture out using a clean towel. There is no need to rinse the salt off the cucumbers; most of the salt drains away with the liquid.
There are two ways you can miss this. First you could throw it ll in a blender, and blend away. You will get a refreshingly smooth, lightly green soup. I don’t mind doing it this way, but I do like to keep the cucumbers out and add the chunks after the blender. The only problem with this method is if you use a high speed blender, like a Blendtec or Vitamix, you will end up with a lot of frothy foam, much like a smoothie. Not a desirable feature in a smooth and creamy soup. Trust me on this one.
The second way to prepare it will end up with a more traditional, hand-chopped texture. Use a food processor (I like to pull out my small mini-chopper) and pulse all the herbs and green onions (not the cucumbers). In a bowl, use a whisk to combine the buttermilk, yogurt and sour cream, if using that, too. Add the lemon juice, the salted and drained cucumbers, and the hand-chopped or food processor chopped seasonings. Combine well, and let sit for an hour or so before tasting for seasoning. The salt on the cucumbers will season the soup. Taste before serving and add salt, if necessary. Usually, the only extra salt I add is a little sprinkle of kosher salt on top when serving.
Note: My thoughts on removing the seeds are, it depends. If the seeds are big, I might remove the big seeds. But if the cucumbers are young, tender and have small seeds, I don’t see the point in removing them. Especially if you are going to throw everything in the blender, as some people like to do. I like the texture of the diced cucumber in the smooth and creamy soup, and if the seeds are small, they do not detract from the soup experience.
This is from Epicurious 1998, doesn’t specify Bon Appetit or Gourmet. The cook is Judy Goldwasser, Amy Goldwasser’s mother.