I'm trying my hand at a new adventure today: Haiku
I can certainly accomplish something that brief today, right?
So here's what I had for lunch today, all romantically zen-ified in 5-7-5:
chilled cucumber soup
summer tickles my palate
with green gazpacho
over a cucumber sea
on cilantro boats
And now here's the recipe, so you can taste summer for yourself. And remember: You can never be too rich or too thin...or use too much cilantro!
My friend CB sent me this recipe last summer when I was completely burned-out on cooking and fresh out of ideas. It was an instant hit, and I've made it several times since. But this is the first time I've made it this summer. Jeff was making those unmistakable "What About Bob" moans without even realizing it. This one could even rival the infamous "When Harry Met Sally" O: "I'll have what she's having." (Good choice.)
It's served cold. You cook nothing, even in prep. It's easy, it's delicious. It's healthy. What more could you ask on a summer night? (Don't answer that.)
Yields a scant 6 cups; serves four to six.
1 ½ lb. cucumbers (4 to 5 picklers or 2 ½ large slicers), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces (to yield 3 cups)
1 Tbs. kosher salt; more to taste
1 large yellow pepper
1 medium ripe avocado
1 medium sweet onion, cut into 1-inch pieces (2 cups)
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper; more to taste
3 oz. fresh crustless Italian country-style bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (2 cups)
1 tsp. chopped garlic
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro - I use MORE. A good sized handful is about right.
1 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh basil or mint
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil; more for garnish
2 Tbs. red-wine vinegar
Put the cucumbers in a colander over a bowl or in the sink and toss with 1 ½ tsp of the salt. Let them sit for 30 minutes to draw out the juices and remove any trace of bitterness. Meanwhile, core and seed the pepper and cut three-quarters of it into 1-inch pieces. Wrap the remaining quarter and refrigerate; you’ll need it later. Cut the avocado in half, peel one half and cut it into 1-inch chunks. Lightly coat the cut surface of the remaining half with oil, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for later.
Rinse and drain the cucumber. Put the cucumber, pepper, avocado, onion, the remaining 1 ½ tsp salt, and the pepper in a food processor and purée. Transfer the purée to a large bowl and reassemble the processor. Process the bread, garlic, and herbs until the bread is reduced to crumbs and the herbs are fully chopped. Add the oil and vinegar to the mixture and process briefly to thoroughly combine. Add the bread mixture and 1 cup water to the cucumber purée and stir until well blended. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Let come to a cool room temperature before serving.
When ready to serve, peel the reserved avocado half and cut it into ½ -inch dice. Cut the reserved pepper into ¼-inch dice. Stir the soup and assess its consistency. If it seems too thick, add water until it’s thinned to your liking. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the soup among shallow bowls and garnish with the avocado and pepper. (I also like to garnish it with MORE cilantro, the avocado pieces, and quartered grape tomatoes,)
(adapted from Ruth Lively, Fine Cooking Magazine, Summer 2007)