Cool as a cucumber
I'm escaping town. Tomorrow! It's time for a mini-vacation. Washington DC, my old haunt, is my destination — I hope I don't melt during the drive. A few books on CD are ready for the journey (I stopped by the library last night in a rare moment of foresight), but I've still got to do laundry, pack, and walk the dog. Thankfully, dinner is taken care of. A soup made with my CSA cucumbers sits in the fridge, chilling to a perfect 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
Trying to rid the refrigerator of perishables before my departure, I scanned its contents and realized cucumber soup was the answer to my problem. A half-empty buttermilk container sat of the top shelf, dill and mint were available in the yard, and both lemon cucumbers and a few of their oddly shaped, thin-skinned green relatives lingered in the vegetable bin. Lemon cucumbers are aptly named. Round and a very pale yellow, they seem vaguely exotic. Sliced open, the flesh is a pale, yellow-green hue. They taste just like an average cucumber.
If you have thick-skinned, waxy cucumbers from the grocery, you must peel and seed them before proceeding with the recipe. Peeling and seeding more delicate cucumbers, like Kirbys, is a matter of taste. I ignore super small seeds, but scoop out the rest with a spoon. Tonight I left the cucumber skins on — I like the green flecks they leave in the soup — but they add texture that some people don't care for.
This is a very simple soup, one that could be jazzed up with grated ginger, made with yogurt and a little cold water instead of buttermilk, garnished with walnuts and walnut oil for a taste of Persia. Experiment.
Cucumber Soup with Jalapeno, Mint and Dill
4 cups roughly cut cucumbers, about 6 Kirbys/pickling cucumbers, skins on but seeded
2 garlic cloves
5 scallions, whites and light green parts chopped
2 teaspoons fresh mint, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh dill, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (quantity depends on heat of pepper - taste and adjust accordingly)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
freshly squeezed lemon juice, if necessary
Peel and seed cucumbers if necessary and set aside. Crush garlic cloves on a cutting board and grind into a paste with a sprinkling of kosher salt — a mortar and pestle would work as well. Place the cucumbers, garlic paste, and remaining ingredients into a blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper to taste; add a few drops lemon juice if needed.
Chill the soup for at least one hour before serving. Garnish with additional freshly chopped herbs.