Spicy Cucumber-Feta Soup

When cucumbers are plentiful, cheap, and the weather is sultry, it’s time to make chilled herby and spicy 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–and I’m making it yours.  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. That’s right; there’s NO COOKING HERE!! Just pressing a button–well, maybe a few times!

For some, cucumbers are an acquired taste….

Granddaughter Piper with Lemon Cucumber 9/2015

This is also a great healthy soup to personalize.  A bit more hot sauce? Add avocado?  Top with smoked salmon? Add 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– 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.  (Even today, this is one of my favorite, favorite summer recipes.) When I began to test cucumber soups for my soup book, I again and again returned to the combination of herbs Melissa uses in her dip.

Thinking about this soup today, I did a search to see how the recipe had fared on the blog — only to discover it’s not here, though it’s on my old blog, Dinner Place. OH NO! How I missed adding it to More Time, I don’t know, but here is on this hot day. Wondrous all on its own — and filling — it’s also a stellar first course for an outdoor dinner party. Serve it up in on-the-rocks glasses and give guests a choice of garnishes for grins and giggles. You might consider having it all ready in a pitcher, ice cold in the fridge, and letting folks pour their own.

Other garnishes might include minced chives or green onions, freshly-made peppery croutons, chopped ripe tomatoes, or freshly grilled corn kernels.

On a day when cooking should be totally optional, this is your go-to:

spicy cucumber-feta soup

If you don’t have a food processor, simply mince 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. Have regular American cucumbers? Make sure to peel well and scoop out the seeds before using.
Servings: 8 servings +/-

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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

Notes

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
Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2013.  All rights reserved.
 

STORAGE: Make this a day ahead to get it nice and chilly, but no more than that. This is also a soup that won’t freeze, so eat it all and enjoy it.


So I flew to Montreal for a long weekend to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary…. We divided our time between Montreal and Quebec City:

View of the St. Lawrence Seaway from our table at the Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City, Quebec
If you let them know ahead of time, the Chateau treats you right!

…on the boardwalk in front of the Chateau in Quebec City
Touristy Montreal– channeling Paris
Herb garden in front of the courthouse– downtown Montreal
Dave cooking dinner for me in the Airbnb condo in Montreal

Herbs in front of grocery in China Town, Montreal

Summer on,

Alyce

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