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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Condiment Queen

So I have a secret.  I miss creamy, gooey food.  I’ve had it recently enough that I know that most creamy, gooey food will require me to go hardcore kale smoothie for a few days, but  still miss it.  It would seem that our food memories and preferences don’t always line up with the decisions we’ve made.  and so my kitchen dabbling, in addition to requiring me to throw garlic/thyme/basil/and olive oil into everything, tends to focus a bit on finding creamy gooey that won’t make me feel icky pooey…..  Nice one, huh?  And in this vein, I’ve made a discovery.  It is a true condiment – not something I’d want to sit down and eat by the spoonful (and therefore fundamentally unlike sunflower cheez spread), but good anywhere that a bit of creamy gooey goes.  I’ve used it with kale; I’ve used it with salsa; I’ve used it with pasta; and I used it in biscuits….  fabulous glorious home baked biscuits.  And now, I shall share it all with you.  Cause I’m nice like that.  And so I give you….

Not So Sour Cream – adapted from everydaydishtv

  • 1 3/4 cups hemp seeds, cashews or pine nuts (I mixed them)
  • 1 t apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1/4 t salt
  • juice from a lemon
  • water as needed for consistency

Food processor.  Fill it and leave on while you’re doing anything else you can think of in the kitchen.  When it’s ready – creamy gooey smoothness.  What to do with it?  I’m sure you can think of things to do with sour cream, but maybe you’re not so sure what to do with vegan not so sour cream…  Why, creamy kale, of course.

Creamed Kale

  • olive oil for pan
  • large clove garlic, mashed, minced, whatever
  • giant bunch of kale, de-stemmed and ripped into smaller pieces
  • 1/4 c Not So Sour Cream

Warm oil in pan.  Saute garlic until you can breathe it.  Turn heat down a little (below medium is good).  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and cover with lid so improve the wilting for the top leaves.  Stir occasionally to prevent overcooking.  When wilt is done, lower heat further and add NSSC and stir to distribute and warm through.  There.  Creamy fantastically healthy goodness.

Next Up?

Super Smooth Salsa

Mix your favorite salsa with NSSC for the balance of acidic zippy creamy deliciousness that appeals to you.  One might be tempted to dip a tortilla chip in such a concoction.  I confess I am a Triscuit dipper.  There, now you know.

Got a full fridge and nothing to eat?

Coronary Free Creamy Pasta

Chop some onion and mince a clove of garlic.  Warm olive oil in pan – add onions and a touch of salt and let them cook down until translucent and soft.  Add garlic.  While this is happening, grab your leftover pasta (quinoa, rice, couscous, whatever).  Warm in whatever way you like.  Add NSSC to warm pasta and stir in your yummy alliums.  Fan-flippin-tastic.

And yes, I did also say biscuits…

Vegan Cream Biscuits – adapted from happyherbivore.com

  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 5 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 4 T NSSC
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 c non-dairy milk

Preheat oven to 400.  Stir together dry ingredients.  Put in food processor, add NSSC and olive oil.  Pulse until the clumps of creaminess and fat are not clumping.  Return to bowl and stir in  non-milk.  Drop in 1/4c blobs onto greased baking sheet (or use parchment).  Bake in oven on low rack for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and slather with whatever floats your biscuit boat.  I had mine with date cream and a kale salad on the side.  Delish.