Cool as a Cucumber Soup!

Summer, time of Italian ice, ice cream, Popsicles, tomato sandwiches, salads full of fresh cold veggies and cucumber soup!  Really, cucumber soup on a hot summer day is cool on your palate and fairly healthy. And we have had a lot of hot days of late; so you are due for a refreshing cool soup. It is also a perfect use for three cukes straight from your overburdened cucumber vines.  Or three cucumbers from a produce stand.  The fresher the cuke the better your soup will be.

This recipe came out of a magazine a couple of decades ago, one of my sisters served it once and I got the recipe from her and have been so pleased with its flavor and texture every time I make it.  I have made raw cucumber soups and they are enjoyable, but this is hands down my favorite cucumber soup.  If you don’t like dill leave it out. I have done that; it is more delicate, and you can then really taste the hint of lemon in the soup.  Once I made it with vegetable broth for a vegetarian and it was excellent that way too.

 

cucumber soup

Chilled Cucumber Soup

Ingredients:

3 medium cucumbers

1 small onion

2 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp mild olive oil

3 scallions

zest of half a lemon

1/2 cup decent white wine

2.5-3 cups good quality chicken broth

1 cup sour cream

2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

Directions: Take 3 medium cukes, peel them, cut in half at the middle point and then in half again from the stem to end so they are like short cucumber canoes. Then scoop out most or all of the seeds.  Shred the cuke canoes into a big bowl using the biggest hole size on your shredder.  Drain in a strainer but save the juice to add to the soup along the way.

Cut up one small onion: 1/3 cup or so.

Cut up 3 scallions

Melt 2 tbsp of butter and a tbsp olive oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan.  Add the onion, cook 1-2 minutes and then add the shredded cuke.  Cook 5 min, add the scallions, stir, then add chicken broth to cover; 2.5 to 3 cups.

Add ½ cup dry white wine, the reserved cuke juice and the zest of ½ a lemon (1 tsp).  Sometimes if I don’t have an open bottle of white wine, I use vermouth; it works well in a pinch.

Heat until nearly boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 20-25 minutes.  Let cool at least 30 minutes and puree.  You can use an immersion blender, a regular blender or a food processor.  The boat motor blender (immersion) is much more fun and easier.  I like to leave a bit of it unblended, so it isn’t really smooth like a true cream soup.  Add 1 cup sour cream and 1 tsp sea salt, whisk well.  I use light sour cream; Daisy is my favorite brand.   Add 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh dill.  Stir well.  Chill 4 to 6 hours.

I often chill the bowls if it is a hot day and so ice-cold soup goes into equally cold bowls.  You can garnish with a dill frond or not. Or a small dollop of sour cream can be pleasant.

The photo above is from a past family dinner party.  It makes quite a bit; enough to serve 6-8 people.

Chilled cucumber soup; it’s a great starter to a meal on a hot summer evening or for a light lunch pair it with a salad or some grilled fish.  Yummy!

Originally published July 2014.

Cooked but not pureed or enriched with sour cream…gotta cool a while!
Time to hit the fridge!

Refreshing…Cool as a Cucumber Soup!

Summer, time of Italian ice, ice cream, Popsicles, tomato sandwiches, salads full of fresh cold veggies and cucumber soup!  Really, cucumber soup on a hot summer day is cool on your palate and fairly healthy. And we have had a lot of hot days of late; so you are due for a refreshing cool soup. It is also a perfect use for three cukes straight from your overburdened cucumber vines.  Or three cucumbers from a produce stand.  The fresher the cuke the better your soup will be.

This recipe came out of a magazine a decade or two ago, one of my sisters made it once for me and I got the recipe then and have been so pleased with it’s flavor and texture.  I have made raw cucumber soups and they are enjoyable but this is hands down my favorite cucumber soup.  If you don’t like dill leave it out. I have done that; it is more delicate and you can then really taste the hint of lemon in the soup.  Once I made it with vegetable broth for a vegetarian and it was excellent that way too.

cucumber soup

Cucumber Soup

Take 3 medium cukes, peel them, cut in half at the middle point and then in half again from the stem to end so they are like short cucumber canoes. Then scoop out most or all of the seeds.  Shred the cuke canoes into a big bowl using the biggest hole size on your shredder.  Drain in a strainer but save the juice to add to the soup along the way.

Cut up one small onion: 1/3 cup or so.

Cut up 3 scallions

Melt 2 tbsp of butter and a tbsp olive oil in a large heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Add the onion, cook 1-2 minutes and then add the shredded cuke.  Cook 5 min, add the scallions, stir, then add chicken broth to cover; 2.5 to 3 cups.

Add ½ cup dry white wine, the reserved cuke juice and the zest of ½ a lemon (1 tsp).  Sometimes if I don’t have an open bottle of white wine I use vermouth; it works well in a pinch.

Heat until nearly boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 20-25 minutes.  Let cool at least 30 minutes and puree.  You can use an immersion blender, a regular blender or a food processor.  The boat motor blender (immersion) is much more fun and easier.  I like to leave a bit of it unblended so it isn’t really smooth like a true cream soup.  Add 1 cup sour cream and 1 tsp sea salt, whisk well.  I use light sour cream; Daisy is my favorite brand.   Add 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh dill.  Stir well.  Chill 4 to 6 hours.

I often chill the bowls if it is a hot day and so ice cold soup goes into equally cold bowls.  You can garnish with a dill frond or not. Or a small dollop of sour cream can be pleasant.

The photo above is from a past family dinner party.  It makes a big jar; enough to serve 6-8 people.

Chilled cucumber soup; it’s a great starter to a meal on a hot summer evening or for a light lunch pair it with a salad or some grilled fish.  Yumm!

Originally published July 2014.

Lemony and Refreshing Quinoa Salad; Perfect on a Hot Summer Evening

I made some lemony quinoa salad the other day, the same one I posted a few years stuffed in tomatoes.  This time I went easy and just mixed in chunks of ripe homegrown tomatoes and it was very tasty as a side dish to a meal.  Kept well in my fridge for the 2 more days it took me to finish it. So easy to make too.  You could even make it the day before; just add the tomatoes before serving. So I am posting it here so you can try it; one caveat; only use local tomatoes.  Do NOT make this with those pale imitation supermarket tomatoes. It is not possible to create something tasty if you start with poor quality ingredients and those plastic flavored “tomatoes” just will not work in this salad.

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Lemony Quinoa Salad

Makes four servings.

Ingredients:

½ cup regular quinoa, (not red or black)

1 cup water

½ a veggie bullion cube

2/3-3/4 cup small dice burpless cucumber

½ cup small dice zucchini

1/3 cup small dice red onion

2 tbsp. fresh mint or parsley, diced finely

1 lemon

3 tbsp.  EVOL (extra virgin olive oil)

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste.

2 large ripe tomatoes cut in chunks

Directions

Put the quinoa in the water.  If it doesn’t say rinsed, you should put it in a strainer and rinse it for a minute to get off any coating – which can be bitter.  Add the half bouillon cube, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 15 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature before continuing.

Place the cooled quinoa in a mixing bowl.  Add in the finely chopped veggies and stir.  Sprinkle the fresh herbs on top; even fresh chives chopped pretty fine or julienned basil will work great.   Use a zester or a very fine grater and get as much zest off the lemon (wash the lemon first); you can zest right into the quinoa mixing bowl.  In a small mixing bowl put the juice of that same lemon, the EVOL and red wine vinegar.  If you have more than 3 tbsp of lemon juice add a bit more EVOL and whisk to combine; add in up to ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp freshly grated black pepper.  Pour ¾ of it over the quinoa and veggies and stir to combine.  Taste and adjust seasoning and add the rest of the dressing if it is needed.  Chill at least 30 minutes. Add the chunked tomato and serve.

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This is a great side dish or, if you have a vegetarian visiting, it is a substantial main dish choice as quinoa has a lot of complete protein in it.

So simple but the combination of fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, red wine vinegar and EVOL makes a great salad dressing.  Do not cook the zucchini – if it is fresh and tender it is fantastic raw in a salad.  If you can’t get one of those European cucumbers use a small regular one and peel the skin off it before dicing. If the seeds are large do not use the center with the seeds.  Your salad will not be as pretty if there are sloppy cucumber seeds in it.

Quinoa salad will keep a few days in the fridge, if it lasts that long! Try it with different fresh herbs: it just won’t taste the same without the fresh summer veggies.  I try to eat seasonally and this is definitely a summer treat!

Refreshing Gazpacho Soup: Ole Tomatoes!

Hot Hot summer days mean I need a cool soup recipe. One with minimal cooking: that is easy and tasty.  Plus I want to use some of my garden produce.  This classic Spanish soup called gazpacho is perfect for all of that and my family loves it. It absolutely must be made with ripe summer tomatoes, never ever attempt it with any less than the best vine ripened fruit.  You can get great tomatoes at farm stands, farmer’s markets and even the grocery store; look for the grown local label for the best flavored tomatoes. Please do not use greenhouse tomatoes grown far away and shipped while not really ripe. Your soup will not be full of tomato flavor and it will taste disappointing.  These ripe locally grown tomatoes are vital to the flavor of gazpacho.

I make my gazpacho in the blender but I believe a food processor works okay too.  No heat,  minimal fuss.

My version allows you to add chopped raw veggies in the amount you prefer just before you slurp it down. I prefer its fresh pure flavors to those soulless restaurant versions that are gelatinous and crammed full of a wide assortment of chunked veggies…uggh.

I once had a version of gazpacho similar to mine in a Philadelphia restaurant made with golden yellow tomatoes which was beautiful looking and quite tasty too.

Warning: you do need to peel the tomatoes but that goes pretty fast.  I heat about a wide sauce pan filled 3 inches deep with water to a boil and pop the ripe tomatoes in for 2 to 3 minutes. I put in 4 at a time; done in a couple batches.  Let them cool a bit and then peel off the skin and cut out the blossom end (top) and they are ready to use.

One more important instruction: gazpacho HAS to chill really good; make it early in the morning to serve as a late lunch or better yet; for supper. The colder the better, I actually put my soup bowls in the freezer for 15 or 20 minutes and yank them out just before filling and serving this cold summer delight.

It is a flexible recipe; depends on the size of your tomatoes. This should make close to 60 ounces or just shy of 2 quarts; cut in half if you don’t want too much. But you will wish you had made more…I promise!  It will keep 3-5 days in the refrigerator.

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tomato juice for thinning the soup

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skinned tomatoes ready for soup making

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I am about to press the puree button!

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Still in blender, just pureed soup.

Summer Chill Gazpacho

Soup ingredients:

8 to 10 ripe fat tomatoes (large ones)

About ¼ cup EVOL; best you can afford

2 slices white bread (GF if you have celiac)

1 lemon

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 to 1 ½ tsp. sea salt

Toppings:

2 large tomatoes diced, heirloom if possible

1 cup diced burpless cucumber

2 scallions, sliced thin, green and white parts

Directions: peel the tomatoes as described above.  When I peel them I do it over a bowl to capture the juices and seeds. I save them, strain off the seeds and I add back the juice as needed to thin the finished soup.    Put 4-5 tomatoes in the blender; add a slice of bread broken up, 2 tbsp. olive oil, the juice of half a lemon and one garlic clove.  Put the lid on and blend well.  Note: do not fill the blender more then ¾ full. Taste; add salt; ½ to ¾ tsp.

Repeat entire process with the rest of the ingredients and thin with reserved tomato juice – it should be thick but not porridge thick.  Mix the two batches together in a big glass bowl; never metal because of the acidity of tomatoes and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Then chill it at least 3 to 4 hours.

Serve with bowls of toppings to sprinkle on top of the thick soup; diced ripe tomatoes, scallion slices and cucumber ( preferably burpless) cut in small dice.  If you want to guild the lily, top with croutons (gf ones if you have celiac), I don’t bother.

 

Note: gluten free bread often gives a slightly different texture to the soup; somewhat less smooth in the look of it and the taste.  It’s okay as it doesn’t affect the flavor: it still is delicious and a bowl of it is so very refreshing on a hot day.  Serve with a sandwich and you have a perfect summer lunch.

I used some chunks of gf sourdough as my croutons in this bowl. Used zucchini not cucumber in topping.

Cherry Sunrise Pie…an Easter Family Tradition

In a week it will Easter, the day of baked ham, chocolate candies and hardboiled eggs…. As for any holiday meal, I want dessert to be special yet not too heavy: an attractive fruit-based pie, but easy to construct and yummy: a tall bill to fill but this cherry sunrise pie checks off all those requirements.  Last time my sisters came for Easter Kaen asked me to make it for the big meal and she melted my heart when she said it felt like Easter when we ate that pie! They always fork it down as they are cherry lovers plus my sisters love how light it tastes.  I share it so you can make it anytime you want an easy company dessert.   You should make it the night before, so it is chilled enough to eat by 1 pm.cherry sunrise pie

It has to have a gluten free crust for me but if you are making it for the wheat eating public there are redi-made crusts out there that will make this so simple yet so delightful.

Cherry Sunrise Pie

One pie crust: I made mine from an 8 oz box of gluten free graham crackers crushed and mixed with 1/3 cup melted butter and pressed gently into a 9-inch pie pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 9 or 10 minutes.  Let cool completely before filling. I made mine the night before. Or buy one; they sell them at holiday times in the gluten free area in my local supermarket and at the local natural food store. Will save time to buy one…

Ingredients for filling

18 or 19 oz can crushed pineapple in own juice

1 21 oz can of cherry pie filling

1 8 oz pkg light cream cheese, room temp.

½ tsp vanilla

1 cup heavy cream

¼ cup powdered sugar

Directions

Drain the pineapple for 20 min; save the juice!  I used my microwave to gently warm the cream cheese; it has a softening setting for cream cheese which works perfectly. I unwrapped it and placed the cold slab on a small plate and warmed it on a very low heat until supple and smooth.  Dump in a mixing bowl, add 2 tbsp pineapple juice, the vanilla, 1/3 cup crushed pineapple, ½ cup cherry pie filling.  If you are smart you will mostly use the goopy stuff and not too many cherries.  Save them for on top! Next, stir this all together really well.

Then whip the chilled heavy cream in a separate bowl with an electric

mixer until soft peaks form, add powdered sugar and mix well with the mixer; be careful not to over beat it.  If it gets clumpy you went too far.  Fold this into the cream cheese mix until it isn’t streaky with white areas.

Gently spoon the filling into the pie shell, spread it out to fill the entire bottom.  I used a spoonula (blend of spoon and spatula) and smooth the top with a flat cake spatula.  I like to leave a sort of tiny ridge on the outer edge to keep the pineapple from spilling out onto the crust.  Then carefully pour the rest of the cherry pie filling in the center spreading it to cover ¾ of the top from the center out.  Finally, use a spoon to put pineapple around the outer rim of the cherry filling.  Chill

photo 1 at least 2 hours, preferably 4.  Cut and slice. No adornments are needed. It has a light fluffy consistency and it isn’t that sweet.  Great to top off a big meal; not too filling and the fresh fruity taste is a spring treat.  Try it soon and you will be giving the recipe out afterwards!

I have no pictures of creating this pie; maybe this Easter I will take the time to snap a few and add them to this post at a later date.

This is about the sixth time I have blogged this recipe; first was in 2014. Been making it for like 20 years!