Our Greek neighbours, Nik and Sula, have been sharing some of the seasonal produce from their vegetable garden with us. Nik, now in his 70s, is very accomplished at working his soil to produce bountiful crops from a small area and this summer has been no exception.
Late last week, Sula brought us 2kg of green tomatoes – pickled by Maggie on Sunday – and three large cucumbers, which went into the cold soup I mentioned at the end of my previous post.
I don’t make this soup very often, mainly because it contains some semi-raw egg yolk, so it doesn’t keep for more than two or three days. However, I knew I would be able to take some to Healesville when I returned Stevie Nicks to Julian and Sara’s home. So, I made a batch, and kept enough for me to enjoy as part of a light lunch.
Now, a bowl of chilled cucumber soup can be quite refreshing on a warm summer’s day. However, in terms of flavour, it is at the ‘light’ end of the spectrum, assuming you don’t want to overwhelm the cucumber with other ingredients. So, you need to add just enough salt to enhance the soup’s delicate flavours, which is one of salt’s main virtues.
My other tip is to be careful not to use too much cream; this would spoil the soup’s mouth-feel. We use a fat-reduced sour cream; if not, we would reduce the quantity specified in the recipe by about one-third.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
¼ tsp paprika
½ tsp cumin
2 long cucumbers or 6 Lebanese cucumbers, peeled, deseeded – using a fine-lipped small spoon – and coarsely chopped
3 tsp chopped dill leaves or 1½ tbsp chopped mint leaves
3 cups chicken stock
grated zest of 1 lemon (or a small piece of preserved lemon skin)
<½ cup sour cream
2 egg yolks (you could use the whites to make meringues)
1½ tbsp dry sherry
salt, as necessary
- Heat the olive oil over low heat, add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until soft.
- Add the spices, stir to combine with the onion and add the cucumber. Cook for 5 minutes, add the stock, dill (or mint) and lemon zest, bring to the simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
- Allow to cool slightly then blend in a food processor.
- Whisk the egg yolks, sour cream and sherry and combine with a cup of the blended soup, then whisk it back into the rest of the soup. Adjust seasoning.
- Serve chilled.