Sunday, July 1, 2012

3 Easy Cucumber Soups

I'm not really sure how I ended up with nearly two pounds of tiny little cucumbers in the fridge and I'm the only one in the family who eats cucumbers. But, whenever I fall into the vegetable conundrum of too many of this or that and I'm not sure what to do with it all, I turn to Vegetable Love, the 708-page all-veggie cookbook by Barbara Kafka.

Back in 2005, I met Kafka, whose name I had known for years, for the first time at a Vegetable Love book signing --- my friend Nancy Messing had worked for her right out of cooking school and I went to high school with her daughter Nicole, doctor turned cabaret singer, and her son. She inscribed my copy "For Lexi, Life keeps making connections and food helps - Barbara Kafka". The second time I met Barbara was this past Mother's Day at Nicole's awesome show at Don't Tell Mama in New York's Theater District. (Mom and I loved the show.)

Today, I made two hot soups, Cucumber Curry Soup, a unique and delicious soup with a distinct curry flavor and Elegant Cucumber Bean Soup (click to pages 356 and 357 in Vegetable Love). And, one cold, Cucumber Gazpacho.

Mini Seedless Cucumbers (Photo: Lexi Van de Walle) 
Both hot soups have a Cucumber Puree base (recipe on page 357) which is cucumber and fresh chicken stock cooked for 30 minutes and then pureed into a creamy base. 
Cucumber Puree, Recipe from Vegetable Love (Photo: Lexi Van de Walle)
The cucumber curry soup combines lightly browned onions cooked in butter and curry powder, which packs a lot of flavor,
Sauteed onions in butter with curry powder (Photo: Lexi Van de Walle)
with lemon and lime juice, non-fat yogurt, kosher salt and cilantro. Simple.
Ingredients for Cucumber Curry Soup (served hot) (Photo: Lexi Van de Walle)
You can make this India-inspired soup ahead and combine the ingredients at the last minute then garnish with yogurt and cilantro. 
Vegetable Love's Cucumber Curry Soup (Photo: Lexi Van de Walle)
The second soup, Elegant Cucumber Bean Soup, combines pureed cooked green beans
Cooked green beans in a food processor (Photo: Lexi Van de Walle)
as well as some of the Cucumber Puree reserved from the first soup recipe with additional chicken stock and a few drops of heavy cream.
Ingredients for Vegetable Love's Elegant Cucumber Bean Soup (Photo: Lexi Van de Walle)
The taste of green beans is the dominant flavor making it tasty even for my cucumber rejecting family.
The Cucumber Gazpacho recipe soup in Vegetable Love has far more cucumbers than the typical gazpacho soup, hence the inclusion of cucumber in the name. If you're like me, I prefer using more cucumbers to balance the acidity of the tomatoes and spiciness of the onion and jalapeno pepper.

Cucumber Gazpacho from Vegetable Love (Photo: Lexi Van de Walle)
 As with any cold soup recipe, choose a good quality olive oil to showcase the fresh from the garden taste. I like to garnish gazpacho with freshly picked mint from the yard. This recipe includes mint in the soup too! Summery and light. Yum. 

2 comments:

Anne Maxfield said...

They all sound good, but the first one I'm going to try is the curry one! How do you think it will be served cold?

Lexi Van de Walle said...

For a cold soup, I would suggest using olive oil instead of butter. Adjust seasoning too -- cold dulls the flavor; hot brings it out. You'll notice ice cream recipes call for lots of added flavor.