Chilled soups done right can be the perfect remedy for a long, hot, steamy Louisiana summer. I’m a big fan of gazpacho and vichyssoise, and I think chilled pea soup with mint is one of the greatest dishes ever invented—especially if you can find fresh peas. Cucumber soup can also be delicious and refreshing, as long as it’s packed with punchy ingredients that elevate cucumber’s mild flavor profile.
I’ve been on the hunt for a good cucumber soup, but admittedly, I’ve often been disappointed in my own creations as well as the recipes of others. This one from Andrew Zimmern’s Food & Wine column, “Kitchen Adventures,” is really nice. It’s got a thick and chunky consistency like gazpacho, nice tang from the Greek yogurt and sweet floral flavor from the herbs. I substituted its European (English) cucumbers for local ones, and I added a splash of vinegar at the end to bring a touch more assertiveness. Scroll to my notes* for specifics.
Cold Cucumber Soup with Yogurt and Dill
Adapted from Andrew Zimmern
2 large European cucumbers* (2 ¼ pounds), halved and seeded with ½ cup finely diced, the rest coarsely chopped
1 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small shallot
1 garlic clove
1/3 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
Fresh ground white pepper***
½ red onion, finely chopped
In a blender, combine the chopped cucumber with the yogurt, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, dill, parsley, tarragon and the ¼ cup olive oil. Blend until smooth. Season with the salt and white pepper, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Season the soup again just before serving. Pour the soup into bowls.**** Garnish with the finely diced cucumber, red onion and a drizzle of olive oil and serve.
*I used regular slicing cucumbers from my garden.
**Because dill is a cool weather herb in Louisiana and my dill was pretty spent, I used fresh basil.
***Despite what purists believe, I’ve never felt it necessary to use white pepper. Black, in my opinion, is fine.
****This is where a small splash of vinegar in each bowl makes the soup sing. Try white balsamic, red wine or white wine.
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor and the author of “Spatula Diaries.” Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.