When I know that A. and N. have a busy week ahead, I share with them easy recipes that require little preparation. While checking out the farmer’s market this week, I noticed piles of long, earthy-green cucumbers, and varying shades of red, misshapen heirloom tomatoes – the intensity of colors would add up to flavorful summer soups.
Apart from Sangria, gazpacho, the cold tomato soup, was my favorite of the dishes that I encountered in Spain. I’ve eaten gazpacho before (and not much cared for it), as it had either mushy vegetables or a tart flavor that was all the more startling in a cold soup. However, in Spain, the gazpacho that I had was a smooth soup with hints of green peppers and cucumber and subtle garlic and onion flavor. Bread, traditionally added to bulk up the soup, was present as croutons, served on top for a much lighter garnish. More importantly, the soup had a perfectly balanced finish; the acidic flavors were absent from the deliciously-sweet tomatoes.
Cucumber, the other summer vegetable that is now in abundance, blends well with yogurt (see last week’s blog: Yogurt: Food for Longevity). In Lebanon and Bulgaria the two are combined to make a refreshing soup. Cucumber yogurt soup, like gazpacho, requires no cooking. Both soups should be made ahead as they need to be served chilled; this makes them both great options for a no-fuss summer meal.
Cucumber Yogurt Soup
Cucumber – 2 peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
Scallion (spring onion) –1 large or 2 small, sliced
Olive oil – 1tbsp
Lemon juice – 1½ tbsp (about ½ a lemon)
Garlic clove – 2, crushed
Plain Yogurt – 2 cups
Salt – to taste
Garnish – Sprig of mint and dill
- Put all of the ingredients, except the yogurt, into a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
- Add yogurt and mix for about 30 seconds.
- Store chilled until ready to use.
- Serve in chilled glasses or fun soup bowls, topped with thin slice of cucumber, dill, and mint.
Large Heirloom (or sweet) tomatoes – 3, chopped
Red pepper – 1, deseeded and chopped
Cucumber – 1, peeled and deseeded
Onion – 1, chopped
Garlic – 2
Red wine vinegar – 4-5 tbsp
Sugar – ½ tsp
Salt – to taste
Garnish – croutons, scallion, and cubed cucumber
- Add the first five ingredients into a food processor. If you want a smooth soup, blend the vegetables in smaller, separate batches.
- Strain the vegetables through a colander to collect the liquid. Using the back of a large spoon, press the vegetables into the colander to extract and collect as much of the liquid as possible. Add a glass of chilled water to the vegetables and continue to squeeze out as much liquid from the vegetables, until you have just the skin and fibrous tissue left behind.
- Add the red wine vinegar.
- Add sugar and salt, and adjust them to balance out any acidity in the tomatoes.
- Chill overnight.
- Garnish just before serving.