I've always found it funny that the ubiquitous enthusiasm people have for warm soup on a cold day doesn't translate at all for cold soup on a hot day. For cold soup, the word "cool" can only be applied to its temperature; in terms of trendiness, it sits alone in the cafeteria during lunch—save its super fashionista form gazpacho, which everyone just loooves. But seriously, why must we solely, and selectively, accept the monotony of the tomato base? Is it because vichyssoise is hard to pronounce, and borsht sounds like the Yiddish antonym of mensch? Well, I—unrelenting advocate of all under-appreciated vegetables, and now, chilled soups as well—will not stand for this temperature discrimination. I happen to love all cold soups (hello, green juice in a bowl, people!) And today I will share this recipe for Cold Cucumber Soup with Yogurt and Dill to prove my point.
"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language," Henry James once said. Let me tell you, this is the soup to serve on that summer afternoon. It is the epitome of refreshing, easygoing, insouciant. Cucumbers, summer's most cooling vegetable, veg out on a pool float in a sea of creamy Greek yogurt, peppered with a plethora of verdant, flavorful herbs. Lemon juice lends an easy acidity; olive oil, a grassy twang. The whole thing can be assembled in less time than it takes for your sunscreen to soak in. Prior to serving, top with a quick sprig of dill, handful of minced purple onion, and drizzle of golden olive oil and you've added a complementary rainbow of bright summer hues to the minty green speckled broth.
Here, a big batch works best—you'll be surprised how quickly your bowlfull will empty, once, twice, even three times. Stick extras in the fridge and work on it for the week: a big, giant bowl of cool whenever you feel so inclined. If you are like me, this guy will make it into the steady rotation of gazpacho substitutes, earning some well-deserved popularity as we glide languidly into the depths of summer.
Cold Cucumber Soup with Yogurt and Dill (by Andrew Zimmern)
2 large European (Persian) cucumbers, or 2 ¼ pounds, halved and seeded —½ cup finely diced, the rest coarsely chopped
1 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove
⅓ cup loosely packed dill
¼ cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons loosely packed tarragon leaves
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling (can use less)
Fresh ground white pepper
½ red onion, finely chopped
Dill spring, for garnish
Dill spring, for garnish
1. In a blender, combine the chopped cucumber with the yogurt, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, dill, parsley, tarragon and the ¼ cup of olive oil. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
2. Season the soup again just before serving. Pour into bowls. Garnish with the finely diced cucumber, red onion, dill sprig, and a drizzle of olive oil to serve.