Monday, August 22, 2011

The Soup Project: Refreshing Raw Creamy Cucumber Soup

Sometimes I feel like Goldilocks when I search for soup-of-the-week recipe inspiration. No recipe will do, except the one that's perfect in every way. That's the way it was with cucumber soup.

I have to admit that like many people, never liked cold soup as a child or as an adult, but once I tasted a cold blackberry soup in between dishes at a fine restaurant and from the moment I tasted it, I was hooked.

The only problem as I see it, it's often not hot enough in the Northwest to really enjoy cold soup. Yet this weekly soup project has compelled me to branch out. So why not a cucumber soup?

And not just any cucumber soup. It had to be just right.

There was this one made with yogurt from Emerl Lagasse, but I don't like to rely on dairy products for soup recipes. Then there was this one that actually called for cooking the cucumbers and adding soy milk. All I could say after reading that recipe, was that sounded so sad and boring, that I'm sorry for the person who created it and even more for the people who sampled it.

I knew I wanted creamy texture, slightly sweet with the tang of pickled cucumbers. (And no dairy.)

My mouth watered as I recalled the way Mom marinated cucumber slices in apple cider vinegar when I was young. What could I add for creaminess? I found this creamy one with avocado at the Nourishing Gourmet. It sounded good and I usually love her recipes, but I wasn't feeling the avocados and definitely not the cumin. I had a few ideas for alternatives.

Also I waited for the price of cucumbers to drop, making the soup more affordable.

These are Japanese salad cucumbers. Don't use those for soup, they're more expensive and best used in salads.

Get plain old slicing cukes. You can find them at mixed vegetable stands. These standard cucumbers have been dropping in price for the past few weeks. I found these cucumbers (below) at the Hillsdale Farmers' Market in Portland a few weeks ago.

Now see how mid-season shopping can really save some bucks. Or it can make you more open to trying new recipes.

Like the stock market, at the farmers' market, you have to jump in at the perfect time to reap the benefits.

My instincts told me, sweet onion and garlic were perfect pairs in this soup. And I wanted a bit of lemon, but I really wanted more of an apple cider vinegar flavor. I used vinegar from Rockridge Orchards.

It was hot here, yesterday. Honest. We had one full day of summer and though folks in Phoenix or Austin might laugh, it was in the high 80s and I was ready to wilt when I came home.

This soup was perfect, so perfect I could have eaten the entire batch myself.

Refreshing Raw Creamy Cucumber Soup
(Serves 2)

1/2 cup apple cider
3/4 cup cashews
1 medium (7-8 inches) cucumber, peeled and sliced
2 thin slices sweet onion, roughly chopped
2 or 3 cloves garlic
Handful of spinach
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh grated carrots for garnish
Lemon wedges

1. Soak cashews in apple cider for a few hours or overnight.

2. Puree cashews, cider, cucumber, onion, garlic, spinach and lemon zest in a blender. When soup is creamy, add vinegar and water to thin to desired consistency.

3. Adjust seasonings. Garnish with grated carrots and serve with lemon wedges.

With the addition of onions, this soup is not a good choice for the dogs. This is the look I get from Chloe (my Cooking Assistant's sister) when the soup isn't meant for dogs.

I hate to say it, but I wasn't ready to share with them anyway. The flavor and texture of this soup were so amazing, I hope you'll try it, too.

1 comment:

Joan said...

Ok! too wierd! I featured Rockridge Orchards vinegar in todays post too! hahah great minds think alike! your soup is wonderful and I love the photo of your sad puppy. too cute. Cheers!