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   First Up:  Spicy Cucumber with Feta and there’s no cooking involved!  Happy summer soups!  Thanks for all of your lovely support during this last week.  You’re helping make my dream come true.  You’re wonderful!

For the next four weeks, I’ll at some time during each week feature one recipe from my new book, Soups & Sides for Every Season (click HERE to order).   Make the recipe, photograph it, email the pic to me:  soupsandsides@gmail.com.   If yours is the first email with a recipe photo I receive, I’ll mail you a book!  Don’t forget to include your snail mail address in the email as well as any adjustments you made to the recipe.    As my own stash of books is still on the way from the printer, be patient if you don’t get your book immediately; it could take just a little while.  Now get “cooking!”  I can’t wait to hear from you.

Soup Book-Cover finalSPICY CUCUMBER WITH FETA

When cucumbers are plentiful, cheap, and the weather is sultry, it’s time to make cucumber-yogurt soup.  Lebanese to start with (Kh’yaaf B’lubban) and very like the Indian Kheera Raita, Americans have made this creamy, cooling dish their own.  Perfect to eat as a cold first course or for a light meal, it’s ready in the time it takes to whir a few things through the food processor. This is also a great soup to personalize.  A bit more hot sauce? Add avocado?  Top with smoked salmon? A bit of cumin? Chopped scallions or tomatoes as a garnish?  However you make this, you’ll want it again and again.  My own version holds some heat (skip Sriracha—a Thai hot sauce– if you don’t like heat) and includes some salty feta and chopped red bell pepper on top.  I first encountered some of the flavors from this soup in Melissa Clark’s fabulous Greek Goddess Dip (NYT, “A Good Appetite,” 2/10/10), which utilizes some of the same ingredients in a perfect herbaceous dip for fresh vegetables.  When I began to test cucumber soups for this book, I again and again returned to the combination of herbs Melissa uses in her dip.

If you don’t have a food processor, simply chop up the vegetables as finely as possible, whisk together the yogurt and buttermilk, and mix up all of the ingredients using a spoon or large spatula.

Serves 8

  • 4 English cucumbers unpeeled, sliced in half, seeded (pull a big spoon down the center of each half), and cut into 1” pieces*
  • 4 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons each chopped fresh basil and mint
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (or a few drops of other hot sauce)
  • Juice of 2 lemons (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Garnish:  1 cup each: feta cheese, crumbled, and finely chopped red bell pepper

Cook’s Note:  If using regular American cucumbers purchased from the grocery store, please peel them before blending to make the soup; they’re often waxed.

Combine all ingredients (except feta and red bell pepper) in the food processor and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings. Chill for a few hours in refrigerator if you have the time.   Divide soup between the bowls and top each with a bit of feta cheese and red pepper.

Accompaniments:  This soup is lovely all on its own, but if you have a hungry group you could add some smoked salmon and crackers to the table or even a basket of pita or naan.  If it’s not too hot, bake up a batch of your favorite biscuits early in the morning.

Wine: Sauvignon Blanc is a great go-to wine with feta cheese, and Pinot Grigio would be good as well.  (Drew Robinson, CS)  Note:  Drew expands greatly on this theme in the book itself; I’ve edited it in the interest of space for the blog.

Dessert:  I love the idea of some fresh fruit and a bit of cheese—nothing more.

Sing a new song,

Alyce