After another swim across Walden Pond a couple of weekends ago followed by plates of breakfast burritos at a local diner, my friend Kristi insisted that we stop by a local farm stand on our way back into town. She even started waving a 20 dollar bill saying she’d buy us vegetables.
Reluctantly Jenna, Lisa, and I agreed that we’d pull over for just five minutes. I don’t know what our problem was. The minute we stepped into the farm stand we started running around exclaiming over the color of the green cucumbers and purple eggplants and the towering pile of corn. Pretty soon I had assembled a still life of sorts on a rustic wooden counter and the lady running the farm stand got so excited she started bringing me veggies to add to my picture like cute yellow cucumbers I had never seen before.
As I hovered with my iPhone camera my friends said, “she blogs about food,” and that got the farm stand lady even more excited and she insisted I take her picture holding some lettuce next to the pile of colorful veggies. She was thrilled that we were so interested in her produce.
“People come in but they never say anything,” she said in a lilting Italian accent. Then she showed us pictures of her granddaughters and blew us kisses and drew crosses on our foreheads with her index finger. Maybe she is a patron saint of vegetables?
She added corn and blueberries to my pile and charged me hardly anything for the corn, “For you, 50 cents.” I don’t know who was more grateful – it was a joyful, shared moment. (I’ve been adding raw, sweet corn to my salads but Kristi told me that she puts an unhusked ear of corn into the microwave for three minutes and it comes out ready to eat on the cob. I tried it and she was completely right.)
I had been wanting to make chilled cucumber soup and the farm stand lady’s cukes were perfect – long and fat. There are so many different kinds of chilled cucumber soup recipes to choose from I decided to just take the best of what I saw and create my own. I liked the idea of adding avocado to the base flavored with cumin, roasted almonds, and creamy yogurt as a nod to Mediterranean traditions. Garlic, mint, and dill worked nicely together, and the jalapeño and lime juice added a little kick. Louisa Shafia’s cucumber soup in her cookbook “Lucid Food,” was largely the inspiration for this recipe. She suggests leaving the cucumbers unpeeled to add more color to the soup. I agree.
I also wanted to make just one serving because I was eating alone and the flavors are best right away, and really, who wants to eat chilled cucumber soup for four days? Not me.
This was a quick, just-right meal for a sultry summer evening. I served the soup in a short glass and topped it with a few toasted almonds. Crusty, hearty bread was the perfect complement, one slice topped with homemade raspberry jam and the other with cheddar cheese.
Chilled cucumber soup
1 cucumber, unpeeled
1/2 ripe avocado
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1/4 cup toasted, slivered almonds (reserve a few for garnish)
1 clove garlic, diced
1/4 teaspoon jalapeño, diced
1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
Pinch ground cumin
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 ice cubes
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Chop into 1-inch size pieces and add to blender. Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender and mix until creamy and smooth.
Pour into a stout glass, garnish with a few almonds, and serve immediately.
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