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28 July 2010

cucumber soup

cucumber II

I've come late to this cucumber party.

I don't just mean that I'm finishing up this post at nearly midnight. I mean that, for decades, I steadfastly refused to eat cucumbers. Their slippery innards kind of grossed me out. The seeds slid around my tongue when I took a bite — ugh. The outside is crisp, the inside is mush. I wanted nothing to do with them. Even when my best friend Sharon suggested we put together a high tea for ourselves and make cucumber sandwiches on soft white bread with the crusts cut off, I ate them just to amuse her. Really, I hated cucumbers.

Somehow, though, I've changed.

Several things shifted my perspective. Danny loves cucumbers. He adores the soft seeds inside, the way they cling to each other. He slices open the long green vegetables, takes a paring knife to the insides to loosen the line of seeds, and then scoops them out with his tongue. Wow. I trust his taste enough that I started trying them too.

The other is that I realized I spent most of my life eating old cucumbers. The ones in the grocery store any month other than June, July, and August are pretty awful. Try to slice one open and you'll feel the cucumber bend under the knife. You have to hack at it to get one piece free. How does that taste on the tongue? Pillowy and crumpled into itself, like an old man without teeth.

Now, I just wait to eat cucumbers until they are fresh. Just out of the garden, they have crunch and coolness, a kind of collected zen energy that no other vegetable shares. Lu reaches across the table for the plate of cucumber spears when we have them out.

And of course, there are pickles.

I have to be honest. My attempt at growing cucumbers was a big old failure this year. The deer ate them all, it turns out, along with the lettuce, the arugula, the spinach, the strawberries, the red currants, and most of the herbs. However, the farm stand just down the street from us sells glossy green cucumbers in their refrigerated case. We like our farmers. We're happy to give them money for what the deer took away from us.

Now that I've joined the ranks of cucumber lovers, I can't get enough of them. Bring me crisp cucumbers on a plate and I will eat them up.

This post is part of the community blogging event called Summer Fest 2010. Would you like more recipes for cucumbers or zucchinis? Take a look at these:

So now it’s your turn: Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? Starting with our posts of Wednesday, July 28, for five Wednesdays, you can contribute in various ways, big or small.

Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. The possibilities:

Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.

The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. Yes, copy and paste them everywhere! That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and some pretty great dialog starts simmering.

Or think bigger: Publish entire posts of your own, if you wish, and grab the juicy Summer Fest 2010 tomato badge (illustrated by Matt of

The 2010 Schedule:

  • Wednesday, August 4: CORN.
  • Wednesday, August 11: HERBS-BEANS-AND-GREENS WEEK (any one or both/all, your choice).
  • Wednesday, August 18: STONE FRUIT.
  • Wednesday, August 25: TOMATO WEEK. How do you like them love apples?
  • And then…more, more, more if you want it (potatoes? sweet potatoes? root veggies? winter squash?). You name it.

cucumber soup and popsicle

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Fresh Mint and Dill

The day I found out that we were all going to waxing poetic about cucumbers or zucchinis in Summer Fest, I read a little message from Eric Ripert on Twitter: "
Blend cucumber+freh mint+dill+salt+pepper+yogurt=great chi soup."

Okay, he was typing fast, and he writes in shorthand like Danny does, like all chefs do. I understand what he meant. He meant I should make this soup.

Late last night, while Jon Stewart was talking, Danny threw this together, adding a bit of his own flair, of course. Our friends Diane and Todd were sitting on our couch, working on matching laptops, while Danny threw the dill into the blender. "That smells good," Todd said, looking up.
"That smells really good," Diane said a few moments later, craning her neck to see what was going on. When it was done, I ran a full spoon over to them both and gave them a taste.
"Wow," Todd said. "That's amazing soup."

And I so I poured most of the soup into a large glass jar and slid it into the refrigerator. And then I filled up the popsicle molds.

That's right. I made cucumber soup popsicles. They're utterly unexpected and fantastic. Imagine the hottest day of the year (that might be today for some of you). Now imagine sucking on a cool cucumber popsicle with sprigs of dill tickling your tongue. You don't want to miss these.

p.s. Diane and Todd are marvelous teachers, kind-hearted people, and some of the best folks we know. We'll tell you more about why they were here, soon. I just wanted to say that it was Diane's insightful suggestions, and smart styling, that allowed me to take these photographs.

3 large cucumbers, peeled
1 tablespoon fine-chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon fine-chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
24 ounces plain full-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/4 cup soda water
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Chop 2 of the cucumbers and throw them into the blender. Remove the seeds from the third cucumber. Throw the seeds into the blender, then fine dice and set aside the rest of the cucumber for garnishing later.

Put the rest of the ingredients into the blender and mix it all up. Season to taste.

Refrigerate the soup for at least 1 hour before eating, and preferably overnight. Top each bowl of soup with a handful of fine-diced fresh cucumber.

(And if you wish to make these into popsicles, simply pour some of the chilled soup into popsicle molds and let them freeze for at least 4 hours.)

Serves 6.


At 5:42 AM, Blogger divinacucina said...

lovely shauna!!! the popsicle twist is really nice- of course today it is pouring rain and chilly here-- will save for later!

At 6:09 AM, Blogger ReMARKable Palate said...

YUM! I never thought to turn my cucumber mint soup into "soup-sicles"!! I can see a while new world of intermezzos on a stick opening up form this post (with it's gorgeous picture).

Thanks, Shauna!

-Chef Mark

At 6:19 AM, Blogger Paige Orloff said...

It's true--there is something creepy/slimy about cukes...and yet: then there's the fact that they offer more refreshment per bite (or, in this case, lick) than just about anything: like a subtle, savory version of watermelon, somehow. I love this idea, and will be replicating it, stat. Meanwhile, I've entered the <a href="'>SummerFest</a> fray with a zucchini bread pudding...and while the original recipe is not gluten free, its inspiration, a summer squash and rice gratin I came up with a couple of years ago is...and that recipe is linked in my post. So thanks for being part of this lovely Fest amidst your busy, busy life--can't wait to see what you come up with next. xx

At 7:22 AM, Blogger One Hungry Mama said...

So many things to comment on! First, it never occurred to me that anyone could not like cucumbers. And, normally, I'm pretty good at understanding that others may see & experience the world differently than me! These recipes make me happy that you've come around.

Two: cucumber soup pops? BRILLIANT! Not only b/c they sound delicious, but also b/c I love the idea of also serving them to kids. So fun to give them--and see their reactions to--unexpected (in a good way) foods. Keeps things fun, delicious and challenges their notions about food, esp veggies. Love it.

Three: You, Danny, Diane & Todd in one house. Um. Can I come over for dinner?!?!

Lastly: My Summer Fest contributions...
A tangy Wilted Cuke and Radish Salad, Zucchini Muffin I developed as a healthy finger food that I'd want to eat, too, and a Zucchini, Mint & Ricotta Frittata.

At 8:12 AM, Anonymous Nicole said...

This sounds perfect.

At 8:12 AM, Blogger abraham said...

hi interesting to see this cucumber & zuchinni party. pleased my Zucchinni Masala ( Indian Version) at regards abraham

At 8:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You read my mind Shauna! My cucumbers have gone crazy and I just happen to have every item except fresh dill. A quick run to the grocery and we will have soup for dinner. Thanks and belated happy birthday to Lu and Danny; what sweet, precious times for your family!

Suzanne in Austin TX

At 8:42 AM, Blogger Beth and Weldon said...

I love diced zucchini sauteed in olive oil and ghee. Seasoned with just a little salt and pepper. Maybe a little herbal salt. Simple and special and of the earth.

At 8:43 AM, Anonymous radish said...

I add soda water to my cucumber soup as well - makes it effervescent! Cucumber soup is one of my favorites. Glad you like cucumbers now. Have you tried adding a few slices to your water? Amazing!

At 8:44 AM, Blogger caroline said...

I can definitely vouch for this flavor profile. I make a yogurt dill cucumber salad that is identical to this recipe except not blended; I instead whisk together everything but the cucumber and then fold thin cucumber slices in. I typically use fresh lemon juice instead of the vinegar and olive oil instead of grapeseed because I like the Mediterranean flavors.

At 8:53 AM, Blogger Nina Laden said...

I love cukes. Booth only likes them if I cut the seeds out. I've been making a cucumber gin drink with lime juice and simple syrup- super refreshing- and beautiful color... but with salmon in season, I'm making a variation of a Rick Moonen recipe: Lapsang Souchong tea cured salmon with dilled horseradish creme fraîche on a cucumber salad.

The cucumber salad is so simple: One cuke peeled, seeded and thin sliced. Toss with a handful of diced red onion and chopped fresh dill. Add two tablespoons of sugar and five tablespoons of white rice vinegar and mix well. Let it sit for a half hour before serving. My oldest stepson thought it tasted like dessert.

At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Alison said...

That looks delicious! I was buying some cheese last night and a guy came into the store demanding some blue cheese. Apparently blending up some zukes and blue cheese (plus cooked down onions) creates a spectacular soup, as well.

At 10:08 AM, Anonymous Winnie said...

Hooray for Summer Fest! I’d like to submit these zucchini “noodles” with avocado garlic dressing:

As well as this refreshing cucumber sorbet:

And some good old reliable lacto-fermented pickles (a recipe that’s really adaptable; I just made a batch with garlic, tarragon and chile pepper)

I’m really looking forward to reading everyone’s recipes…and I’ll try to do a dedicated Summer Fest post next week ;)

Winnie @

At 10:38 AM, Blogger Bianca said...

Cucumber and Grilled Fennel Salad screams summer to me!

I can't wait to share something corny next week!

At 11:20 AM, Blogger Green Key said...

Oh my god . . . your popsicle idea makes me want to make cucumber-mint frozen yogurt! I bought an ice cream machine last year, but I'm trying to lose a few pounds, so haven't been using it. Ooooh!

Speaking of cucumbers, when I was in Manhattan recently I had a cucumber-mint vodka martini at The Mercer Kitchen. To die for!! So refreshing. I haven't been able to reproduce it yet, but I've had some fun trying! :-)

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Jennie said...

A different take on baking with zucchini! So glad to join in this year's SummerFest.

At 11:50 AM, Blogger Maria said...

Great recipes! I love this cucumber feta salad:

What a fun event!

At 8:45 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

This is a version of a classic old European soup called Klodniak.
Its incredible . A southern CA institution restaurant from the 70's was famous for it.

1/2# bay shrimp
2 large cukes
2cups sour cream
5 cups buttermilk
1 cup sauerkraut juice
3 cloves garlic,mashed
1/4 cup fresh dill
1 cup minced scallions(only whites)
1/2 tablespoon
fennel seed ground
s&p to taste
4 hard cooked eggs sieved(whites and yolks seperate
for garnish
10 sprigs fresh dill garnish


combine all ingredients accept garnishes.
Chill thouroughly

serve with egg and dill garnish in chilled bowls!

This will blow your mind:)

At 9:12 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Reminds me a dish I was served while visiting a small village in Northern Afghanistan. I was a little hesistant to try it at first because of it having milk and the fact that most small villages in Afghanistan are not known to have refrigeration systems on hand. I am glad I decided to venture forth. The flavors just exploded in my mouth. Truly not what I expected at all but it was incredibly refreshing and amazingly tasting. Needless to say I accepted a second glass when it was offered. Thanks for the memory.

At 1:16 AM, Blogger The InTolerant Chef ™ said...

I love cold soup, but those popsicles are an inspiration! I might even morph it into a sorbet.

At 11:13 AM, Anonymous molly said...

I SOO needed this recipe. Cucumbers out my ears, mint galore, heat everywhere, and a brand new tub of whole milk yo in the fridge. Thanks, Shauna!

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Kim - Affairs of Living said...

I have two recipes to submit:

Lacto-fermented Vinegar-free Cucumber Pickles:

Sauteed Zucchini with Spinach & Garlic Scape Pesto:

Can't wait for the next one!
Kim |

At 8:09 PM, Anonymous Leah said...

I'm loving the idea of this Summer Fest thing, and I would love to share my all-time favorite zucchini recipe.
I become obsessed with these fritters every year; and I mean *obsessed*.
Check out the recipe and post here:
I'm telling you--if you try these, you will not be disappointed. But you may get mad at me for the ensuing obsession.

At 11:11 AM, Blogger kayenne said...

i don't know about cucumber soups, but one of the best ways i enjoy them is as a juice or shake. recipe not needed. just a blender or a fruit extractor.

fave combos:
- cucumber and pineapple shake
- cucumber and mint juice
- cucumber and orange

my family also loves cucumber slices dipped in sugar. except for mom, she likes them pickled in vinegar.

At 1:49 PM, Blogger Guinnah said...

funny how we all have our little food quirks - me + celery? not so much.

We've had an abundance of both cucumbers and summer squash in our CSA and our garden is about to go crazy (provided the squirrels don't wipe us out - the battle is getting heated).

My recent blog post on a favorite use for zucchini:

love the cucumber soup pops - brilliant!

At 3:04 PM, Anonymous terri said...

Yummie, I'm a big fan of courgette soup as well - I'll be making some of this tomorrow got so many cucumbers and courgettes coming out of the garden at the moment it's hard to think of things to do with them

At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This soup is one of my favourites! Amazing idea

At 7:49 PM, Blogger Melissa @ It's The Way She said...

Love your cucumber mint soup idea.

I’m late joining the party but here’s my contribution to the fun… Ice box pickles and Zucchini Ribbons in a Hazelnut butter sauce.

At 12:19 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I think I came too late to the popsicle party, b/c all the molds are sold! I've been looking for a while now, having seen David Lebovitz's recipe for vietnamese coffee popsicles, and now THIS!!!!

I am so jazzed to try the cukesicles. I even went to Ikea 2day to find molds . . . on a weekend . . . a HOLIDAY weekend. It was a zoo, and the ultimate sacrifice, AND they were sold out anyway.

If any popsicle cognoscienti living in vancouver, bc, happen to be reading this, please help! Where are the molds?

At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Kare said...

I'm all about chilled cucumber soup this summer - just wish we had a few more hot days to really warrant it! Ah well, at least it's not raining... I've been making a version that I drizzle with some curry-infused olive oil. It's terrific.

And I have yet to have any luck growing cukes this year or any year... and I can't blame deer! They just don't seem to ever take off.

At 4:42 AM, Anonymous Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

To love someone in such a way that you want to enjoy all the foods he enjoys -- even the ones you thought were icky -- is a wonderful thing.

And the cukesicles are genius.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Ms. F said...

I have to say, Summerfest has been an inspiration. This evening I am having dinner with my lovely in-laws and we will be having corn and all kinds of fresh, local goodies. I'm not sure if I'll officially be a part of Summerfest (two kids and a hubby with two jobs means I get waylaid fairly often) but I appreciate the inspiration.

Okay, your soup is divine. Anything with cucumber is good in my book! Have you tried thinly sliced cucumbers in a "dressing" of equal parts water and vinegar with sugar? It was my Grandpa's favourite, and mine too.

At 11:32 AM, Blogger Nazila Merati said...

sounds like maste khiar, except for the champagne vinegar. I add raisins (don't laugh), it is really good.

I will post recipe today.

At 1:05 PM, Blogger michelle w said...

Here's my favourite way to use up extra zucchini: Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes, from the food blog 101 cookbooks:

At 6:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my favorite refreshing drinks - put cucumber slices and lime slices in a pitcher, fill with ice and water, let seep for a few minutes and enjoy!

At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Sheree said...

I love cucumber-chili popsicles. I wonder if those could be made at home?

At 12:32 AM, Anonymous Bridget said...

Thank you for all the superb ideas!!

Bridget [The Internet Chef]

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gluten free lasagne tip using zucchini:

Use sliced zucchini instead of lasagne noodles in whatever kind of lasagne you like. It is totally tasty for vegan lasagne made with Tofutti or cashew cream, as well as meat-sauce and cheese varieties.

At 11:03 PM, Anonymous molly said...

Hey Shauna,
Just a note to let you know that a) we made this soup, b) we ADORE this soup, and c) we posted an adapted version, with credits and applause. It has made my summer immeasurably better. Thanks for sharing.

At 7:21 AM, Blogger Crystal said...

Thai Chicken with Peanut Sauce, Cucumber, and Cilantro:

Peanut Sauce:

1/3 cup unsweetened creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 tsp wheat free tamari
juice and zest of 1/2 fresh lime
1 TB minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
dash of chili powder

Whisk all ingredients together.

Saute together:
1/2 cup chopped portobello mushroom
1/2 cup bean sprouts
4 sliced chicken breasts
Peanut Sauce mixture

Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 1/2 cup chopped cucumber and 1/4 cup chopped cabbage.


At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Grace said...

The human smell from old sneakers, socks, and dirty t-shirts may keep the deer out of your garden! See the deer page:

I've heard from friends that this actually works. :)

At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Sheila Bocchine said...

Super duper yummy!!! I absolutely cannot get enough of cucumbers! Thank you for this post!


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