Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cold soup for hot days

I like cold soups in the summer because they combine the complete-mealness of a hot soup, with the don't-use-the-stoveness you desire on these 95-degrees-in-the-shade days. This particular soup is a semi-original invention that was spawned when I saw recipes for yogurt-based soups and tried to find a way to make them without actually using yogurt. I'm not a yogurt eater, with the exception of the frozen, Pinkberry variety. I know, yogurt is great; it's full of healthy bacteria and bone-building calcium, and I'm even told it tastes good, though that last part is highly dubious. But you know what else has all those health benefits without the yogurt taste? Buttermilk. Okay, I know, when you think of buttermilk, what comes to mind is that thing you add to pancake and cake batters, and not a soup base. But try it. This soup will taste suspiciously like tzatziki sauce, and I have been reading up on Wikipedia, and apparently, some cultures do make a chilled soup with similar ingredients, including buttermilk. (Of course, those cultures also have a history of this and this, but that's not to discount their soup expertise)
Friends, I assure you, on balls-hot days, it is air conditioning in a bowl.

I included dill and parsley as the herbs, but I'm sure it would taste great with cilantro, mint, or even arugula leaves sliced into thin ribbons. I did not add lemon juice, since the buttermilk is already tart, but that's another option.

1 quart buttermilk
5 cucumbers (give or take) cut into small cubes, seeded if desired
2-3 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
2 tbsps sour cream
1 tbsp mayonnaise
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp fresh dill
cayenne pepper to taste
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

For Garnish (optional)
sliced or crumbled hard boiled eggs
thinly sliced or cubed radish
scallion slices

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive container, cover and chill for several hours to let the flavor develop. Taste just before serving, and adjust seasoning as needed. Top with garnish of choice. Serves... lets say 6-8? Depending on bowl size? Okay. 6-8.
Note: if when you first combine the ingredients, they seem a little thick, dilute with a little water at a time until it's at the desired consistency.

 (I'm not a good photographer, but you can tell by the jaunty placement of that napkin that I'm trying my darnedest)

Enjoy! Next time I'll have a dessert.

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