Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cucumber soup

Californians who go East for college are warned ferociously about winter, which I’ve subsequently decided is kind of unnecessary. Sure, I had to learn to dress myself properly (coats with linings? socks? what are these things?), and just this year I did manage to slip and fall on my butt twice walking to class on the same day, but overall, winter in Rhode Island wasn’t that big of a deal. [Yes, Dad, I know I only think this because I never had to shovel snow in upstate New York. I’m sticking to my story anyways. HAH!]

Summer is different.

 I hate hot weather. Part of it is my own personal physiology- I start sweating grotesquely at about 76 degrees- but it goes deeper than that. Being cold is a problem with an easy solution, but with heat… I mean, there are only so many clothes that you can take off. You know your agree with me. The one and only summer I spent in Providence was brutal, and I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t bought an air conditioning unit for my third floor bedroom I would have ended up a melted pile of exhausted human tissue sludging around campus like a giant amoeba within a week.

Fun fact: I am now imagining myself as one of the Mistwraiths from the Brandon Sanderson books- you know, the creatures that have an irrational number of bones poking out at odd angles?

That beautiful image brings me to the third week of July. I’m staying with my grandfather on Cape Cod, which would normally invalidate my complaints about the weather (or really anything), but I’m clearly being punished for something because it was disgustingly hot and, unusually for somewhere this close to the ocean, sticky, humid and breeze-less. I spent most of the week lying on the living room floor failing to do work and wondering whether getting my cousins’ dog to stop barking at nonexistent squirrels would be worth the effort of moving my body. Bottom line: I’m a wuss with first world problems. I am, however, a wuss who makes pretty awesome cold soup.

I know. It looks repulsive.

In reality, it's a delicate minty green color and NOT gross looking, but every picture I took looked turned out worse than the last one. You should see the ones where the soup was in a blue bowl... let's just say, I would not eat that based on photographic evidence. After a while, I got frustrated and took a sequence of equally terrible photos of my lemonade and iced tea mixing, which did not make me feel better. Go figure.

Back to the soup. It has cucumbers!

The recipe is from the very first cookbook I ever owned. It was given to me when I was 15, shortly after I stopped eating meat. I don’t remember what it was actually called (Hippy Dinners? Vegetables are people too?) but I’ve got a photocopy of a page that my high school self annotated with the words “soup: excellent!”. Crossed out next to the word excellent is ‘winner’, an expression my mom uses while writing in cookbooks and that I was apparently subsequently embarrassed to have imitated. I was obviously a really cool, self confident teenager.  

Either way, I was right: this soup was, and is, a winner. Cold soup sounds fussy, but this one has, like, five ingredients, a blender does all the work, and it’s perfect summer food. Best of all, you can make it when you do have the energy to move, and then eat it later when you don't feel like leaving the floor. Or you could be a civilized person and eat at a table. I won't judge.

Cucumber Soup
Stolen from a cookbook I can't quite remember

Notes: I'm pretty bad at blenders, so I always end up having to do this in batches. The recipe I'm retyping seems to think you can do it all in one go, so blend according to your own ability. Or the size of your blender. Additionally, you might want to start with half that amount of salt and then work up- I've actually decreased the amount of salt from the original recipe, but everybody's different.

3 large cucumbers (1 1/2 lbs), peeled
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
Black pepper

1. Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. If you're me, enjoy this step immensely. Chop them up, but don't worry about it that much. Translation: chop coarsely and transfer to blender.

2. Add yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, mint, garlic and salt and blend until smooth. Season with black pepper, and chill until ready to serve. You might want to chill the soup too... I'M HILARIOUS. Ok, but seriously. Put the soup in the fridge. I'm gonna stop typing now.


  1. Unwritten step #3: Strain the cucumber guts you have just immensely enjoyed removing to harvest the juice. Mix with gin, lime juice, and a wee bit of sugar. Consume your leftover cucumber juice gimlet alongside soup.

  2. I don't know who you are, but I like your style!