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Sunday, Oct 19, 2014
South Shore News

This soup is as cool as a cucumber


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Summer is cucumber season, and grocery stores and roadside produce stands are selling the crop at prices so low they are jaw dropping.

I learned one of my favorite ways to enjoy cukes from my mother. She’d simply keep a container of them sliced in the refrigerator bathed in a mixture of vinegar and water. She used to make them a lot when I was a kid. I think it was the “no canning” part she liked.

Summertime dinners on the patio weren’t done until her “pickled” cucumbers were passed. The cool and tart veggies were scarfed down on 90-degree-plus days.

Apart from those puckery little bites, which I also make often, this summer I’ve turned my cucumber bounty into chilled soup. That’s right. Cold soup.

My sister, Janet, told me about a cucumber gazpacho she recently ate while dining at The National restaurant in Athens, Ga. She loved the stuff so much she went online, found the recipe and sent me the link.

Holy cucumber soup, Batman. This no-cook recipe was so easy to prepare and the soup had a surprisingly seductive taste. Both were definitely sister-approved!

Vibrant and light, the pale green gazpacho is made with seedless, aka English, cucumbers. Just a handful of other ingredients are needed.

When I made my first batch of soup, I downsized the recipe in half, mostly because a cup and a fourth of olive oil seemed excessive to me. Turns out it wasn’t. Next time I’ll make the full recipe so we can have more leftovers.

After tossing everything into the blender for a bruising round at high speed, this soup called for a good chill.

As a simple add-on idea for extra texture, I put a few tablespoons of diced shrimp sauteed in olive oil into the center of each bowl before serving.

Surprisingly filling, this soup turned out to be a delightful keeper. It’s sure to become an oil-stained page I regularly pull out of my recipe favorites when a yen for something refreshing beckons.

I hope you like it as much as I did.

Lynn Kessel is a freelance food columnist. For more of her recipes, visit southshore.tbo.com and enter the search words Lynn Kessel.

Cucumber Gazpacho

2 quarts English cucumbers, peeled, seed & chopped (about 8 cups)

1 1/4 cups good quality extra virgin olive oil

1 cup ice water

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/3 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pinch of ground cayenne pepper

Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Allow the motor to run for at least one minute per batch. This helps create the emulsion that gives the gazpacho a thicker consistency. Place in the refrigerator until well chilled. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add more olive oil or vinegar depending on your preference.

Serves 6 - 8.

Source: Adapted from www.todinefor.blogspot.com.

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