Lately, it’s been too darn hot to cook!
Summer has hit very hard around here with temperatures over 100 degrees for the last several days. On top of that we are having the worst drought in history with no prediction of when relief will come.
What’s a cook to do?
One thing I have been doing is getting up early enough to cook something in the morning when the air is . . . well I wouldn’t go so far as to say “cool” . . but I figure early a.m. is when the temp is as low as it’s going to get for the day. Even so, I do not want to fill our home with heat from my stove and oven!
The other evening I was through with work and even though it was rather late evening, it was still mucho calor fuera and even though I had not eaten since about 11 a.m. (only breakfast and second breakfast). I still didn’t want to eat anything. Just too hot! But I knew I would eventually get hungry.
(And that’s the thing about summer, don’t eat, don’t eat, too hot to eat, and then Wham! Starving! Eat Everything!. I mean, what’s with ‘second breakfast’ lately? What am I, a Hobbit? I’ll let you know if I ever get that under control.)
Mucho calor fuera!
I thought, “I should eat something at least. What could I possibly make that I might feel like eating?”
There it was—a visionary flash of the ultimate cool-as-a-cucumber-but-loaded-with savory-satisfying-flavors summer refreshment idea!
“How about a cold, creamy cucumber soup?”
So I got busy. There was a little cooking involved, but not much.
1. I minced a little red onion—very fine mince—and sauted that with a touch of olive oil until it was sweet and tender.
2. I added some soup stock. I used Imagine Foods Vegetable Soup Stock which is the only ready-made stock I have found that does not have cane sugar in it. (More notes about the soup stock later.)
3. I grated a bulb of fennel and a cucumber—both organic—and added that. I added salt, white pepper and then a little unsweetened coconut milk and some nutmeg. I adjusted the salt and then chilled the soup. Surely you could play around with the seasonings. A bit of cardamom perhaps? Or go for a hit of hot chili pepper?
Lovely chilled soup in
three four easy steps!
4. Use the fluffy end of the fennel as a garnish. (That is, if you can. The fluffy tips of the fennel look lovely when dry and seem like the perfect garnish. But as soon as they get wet they rapidly collapse and resemble a wet Shih Tzu. So throw on that garnish and serve it fast!)
Now let me talk to you about the color. If you buy one of these ready-made soup stocks it’s going to be orangey-yellow because they use a lot of carrots or squash. And the flavor of this stock is very nice but definitely affects the outcome of the soup.
If you think creamy cucumber soup should NOT look like pea soup, and you want a more traditional white-looking soup, you should make dashi as your soup stock. This is not hard to do at all. Then you will have a clear broth to start with. Further, if you really want a whiter soup, you could peel the cucumber before grating it and then you would have much less green color.
I’m sure my photo of this soup would be much more picture perfect had I done that but I was looking for something very fast so used the packaged broth and I prefer to use whole organic foods whenever possible so I generally don’t peel my cucumbers. There’s lots of good stuff (nutrients) right under that skin!
When the soup was chilled, I served it to my Hubbin’ and myself. I thought probably the soup would be too mild for him and he might not like it. Wrong!! He did like it very much! We both enjoyed the flavors and felt refreshed after eating it.
Another tip about this soup is that you can keep it chilled in a container for work or travel and enjoy it as is! How simple is that?