Cool Cucumber Soup with Herbed Cucumber Relish (DF)

 photo IMG_0726.jpgI have cucumbers coming out of my ears – and no Big Brothers, I did not eat a seed. I can only assume that our relatively cool Maryland summer has delayed the usual onset of powdery mildew (which has now arrived and I’m combatting according to Big Sis’ suggestion) long enough for my cucumber plants to go bananas, so to speak. I’ve regularly been harvesting not just 1 or 2, but anywhere from 6 to 16 (yes, I said 16) delicious cukes from my 4 cucumber plants. What variety is doing so well in my not very well tended garden? I have no idea. Seed mixups are a real bummer. I digress.

In order to take advantage of my cuke bounty, we’ve been experimenting with some things, and I’ll share more of them over the next few weeks before it snows and puts an end to this whole summer bounty thing. Today, while it is relatively hot, I’ll share a lovely cooling use for all those wonderful cukes.

If you’ve been playing along for a while, you already know how I feel about Deborah Madison. In addition to my Deborah Madison cooking bible, I have a slimmer volume dedicated only to soups, because I really like soup. In this beautifully produced and photographed cookbook, there are a few cool soups perfect for beastly weather. Last night I was inspired by her Cool Cucumber Soup, although as usual I was compelled to make some changes. At any rate we had an 85% approval rating (meaning Picky Pants initially enjoyed it and changed her mind later). So, for all you cucumber lovers, or just those of you who like the sound of an easy cooling meal made from the most abundant veggie out there right now…

Cool Cucumber Soup with Herbed Cucumber Relish (DF) adapted (and made larger and milder) from Deborah Madison’s version in Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen(serves 4)

Soup

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  • 2 pounds cucumbers
  • 1 1/2 c cashew cream (here, from our lovely friend Annie) or yogurt or sour cream
  • 3/4 c herbs (I used dill, basil, and parsley to great effect
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • zest and juice of 1 1/2 lemons

Relish

  • 1 pound cucumbers
  • 2 T chopped scallions
  • 1 T dill
  • 2 T chopped basil and parsley
  • 2 t olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

Peel and seed the cucumbers – dice 1/3 of them (or one pound) and set aside for the relish. While I often recommend skipping peeling and such, in this case I peeled to remove the bitterness sometimes in the skins. Coarsely chop remaining cukes and place in blender with the rest of the ingredients for the soup. Blitz until smooth. Place in fridge to chill. Yes, that’s it. No, I’m not joking.

Just before serving, combine ingredients for relish in bowl and stir. Done. No muss, no fuss, no cucumbers wasted. Delish. Happy super late summer!

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Update on Salmonella and Cucumbers

More details here. The article identifies the growers so you can check your labels. The map of those affected is not at all regional, so these babies were sold all over the place. While there have been no new illnesses reported for a while, the CDC indicates that may be because they haven’t developed or been reported to the CDC yet. If you have cucumbers, please check the details. Eat well, be well.

Pickle Power

Okay you fabulous people.  I had no idea that so many others had experienced the pain of my pickle …. perplexity…. ok, that’s not a word, but it just had to be a “p” word (and the pre-K crowd goes wild….).  I have learned a great deal since posting about my frustration with standard pickles bought from an above average American grocery store.  My key conclusion: I will not likely be buying pickles again, and if I do, it will be something like Bubbie’s fermented pickles.  The price of these all natural probiotic beauties, however, makes them a candidate for a special treat rather than everyday lunch purchasing.  Other conclusions I’ve drawn: pickles are both a flavor and a process, and it is useful to figure out what you’re after if you want to satisfy your most dear pickle cravings.  I’ve realized that most of my pickle cravings are flavor rather than process or probiotic related, and so I am particularly interested in fresh and refrigerator pickles at the moment.  But WOW! did I get some great suggestions.

A quick gleaning of your wisdom (and an overwhelming craving for BBQ – which I satisfied with seitan, something we’ll discuss when I get it down) led me to put together what I can only humbly and realistically call a sweet and sour pickle salad.  The children were unimpressed, but I can’t say I’m surprised.  Frankly after giving them the equivalent of Lucky Charms pickles, I’m not sure I’ll ever get them to eat the real deal.  My husband and I enjoyed them immensely, eating them as a side dish, layering them on top of our BBQ, eating them straight out of the bowl, yes it was a bit of a fresh pickle orgy.  So, while simple, I thought I’d share with you my quick not quite pickle recipe in case you, too, are reeling from my pickle revelations.  These still have more sugar than I would like, but I guess I need a little weaning where my pickle expectations are concerned as well.

Chemical Free Simply Fabu Sweet and Sour Pickles

  • 1 large English style or 2 medium whatever you have on hand pickles (this is still me – please don’t get stuck on the type of cuke for pity’s sake)
  • 1/4 onion cut into slices (or however your crew will eat them)
  • 2 c water
  • 4T sugar
  • 1/2 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2t celery seeds
  • 3t salt
  • 1t mustard seeds

Slice cucumber however you like.  Put cukes and onions in bowl that will hold your cukes and some liquid – ideally to cover cukes.  Bring water just to a boil and add sugar – take off heat to avoid scalding sugar and stir to dissolve sugar.  Add other ingredients and stir.  Allow to cool for a few minutes.  Pour over cukes and allow to sit for at least half an hour.  Longer would be better and a chill would be nice too.  We ate ours at room temp and straight out of the bowl until all that was left was the brine.  De-lish and no HFCS or Yellow 5 in sight.  The cucumber plants that are growing like crazy are all the more lovely to me now.  Soon we shall be drowning in cukes for me to experiment with.  And thanks to your generosity I have many options to choose from.  Can’t wait.