Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cucumbers...In Soup?

Andy's away this week working out of town, so I thought I should take advantage of the opportunity to try some "out there" recipes for me. Most often I am good at picking new recipes to try, but every once in a while, something is so different from the norm that I just have to try it, and when Andy is away, I use that time to play around. I started with the idea to make a cucumber soup with some of the larger cucumbers I have sitting around. A quick search however, brought up plenty of cucumber soups, but all of them contained copious amounts of sour cream or yogurt. One of my criteria for this soup was that everything be on hand, and since I am out of both sour cream and yogurt, every single soup was out. The ones that didn't contain sour cream or yogurt had plenty of heavy cream instead. I really wanted something lighter, and set out to make my own.

My original thoughts for a cold cucumber soup were quickly swayed to a hot soup as I surveyed the contents of my pantry and garden. But would cucumber be good in a hot soup? There was only one way to find out.

I began with potatoes. I wanted a creamy consistency without the heaviness, so I decided to begin with red skinned potatoes. Next, I was going to boil them with onions, but opted to use a vegetarian vegetable broth instead of just water for the boiling. After about 20 minutes, the potatoes and onions were soft, and I whizzed them up to a silken puree with my immersion blender. At that point, I checked for needed salt and pepper, and then added my garden vegetables. I wanted the cucumber to feature, so I used mostly cucumber with a few green beans and carrots thrown in for interest and color. Once the vegetables softened, I added some low-fat milk and a substantial amount of fresh dill from the garden. A few more minutes for the dill to permeate, and my soup was finished.

It was brightly flavored and delightful. The cucumber, cooked up, resembled zucchini or summer squash. The potatoes contributed all the creamy texture I could have hoped for, and the dill added a fantastic dimension of flavor. The occasional bite of a green bean or garden fresh carrot helped keep every bite interesting. I topped the soup with homemade croutons and Parmesan cheese, but it really didn't need the cheese. I could see potentially adding a few lardons of bacon in the future for a meat-eating crowd, but the soup really stood on it's own feet quite nicely. Zander didn't eat very much of it, but Abigail inhaled it completely. I call that a qualified success and I have named it Dilled Potato Soup with Cucumber and Spring Vegetables. A vegetarian dish with the cheese, a vegan dish without, either way it is an excellent addition to the kitchen garden repertoire.

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