|Cold Cucumber Soup with Mint and Lemon|
Inspired by a recent trip to Decatur, Georgia (by way of Atlanta) I am paying homage to a delectable soup tasted at Cakes and Ale.
What fun it is, to try and let your taste-bud detective reveal the herbs, subtleties, and nuance of taste that make up a finely crafted recipe. I know you have done this, to try to recreate something you've had in a restaurant or a friend's house. Going blind, without a recipe. Just diving right in and start cooking with your vision and taste as a guide. How successful have you been? Do you search out like recipes on the 'net to guide you? Do you invent on a whim? Well, I do. And, for those following, this recipe is not certified, culinarily tested by banks of trained recipe writers or staff. It is my creation, eaten by my family and heck, we just enjoyed it.
The debate about the value of food blog posts such as mine, without verification, validation and test kitchen results versus the cookbooks and professional sites is currently a hot topic. Don't each have value as a creative outlet?
Let not the buyer beware? I have had my own failures based on recipes from published cookbooks and successes from delightful posts on the Internet and vise versa. Aren't we all on this journey together? Although at different places and experiences on the timeline, growth as a cook means that you can learn to read a recipe and discern whether it is viable or not and whether you have enough experience to carry it out. Are the directions clear and followable enough for you to be successful? Does the cake have leavening, does it call for salt? Are the flavors, herbs and spices complimentary? I check each of these things and compare before I dive in, don't you? We each "read" a recipe from a different lens based on our own experience.
I am so sorry that "home economics" is not mandatory in schools to prepare kids with cooking basics in a world of take-away family dining. However, those who have the inclination and the cooking bug are lucky enough to learn from TV (PBS rocks,) study videos, search and find fine examples. And, what is even better, the world has developed crowd sourcing for the testing process. Reading reviews, comments and compare similar recipes. If we do the research our confidence grows in our choices.
It is about how you learn, isn't it. Do you trust the author? Do they have like sensibilities to yours? We have a choice before going head-long into a dish that we hope will be spectacular. Heaven forbid you do not practice that "oh-so-important-spectacular-end-all-be-all" dish before the event of a lifetime. Do you think success comes without practice or as a one-off? This journey, is not about perfection based on a single corporate tested recipe, vetted by professionals, but our own practice and adventures that makes each of us better cooks and culinary citizens. Failures teach as much as our successes.
I honor the trained culinary professional. But, I also honor the inventive home cook with heritage and craft as their guide. Like neighbors across the fence, sharing recipes is what we do.
In the kitchen, I'm yours.
|Cold Cucumber Mint Soup with Lemon (and a little pepper)|
Cold Cucumber Mint Soup with Lemon
Serves: 6-8 as a starter
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chill Time: Minimum 1 hour before serving
1 English Cucumber, seeded, skin on
2 Cucumbers, peeled and seeded
½ - 1 whole Anaheim Chile Pepper (adjust to taste)
3 each Green Onions (scallions) white and light green parts
4 tablespoons fresh Spearmint (8 large leaves)
1 cup fresh Spinach leaves
2 tablespoons fresh Cilantro
½ to ¾ cup water
1 Garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
1 teaspoon Lemon zest
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 cups plain Greek Yogurt
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
Pinch White Pepper
2 tablespoons fresh chopped Chives or
2 tablespoons micro Lemon Basil Leaves
Peel and seed regular cucumbers, seed chile and English cucumber cut into chunks.
Rough chop spinach leaves, green onions and herbs.
Add cucumbers, chile, onions, mint and spinach leaves in a blender or bowl of food processor, pour over ½ cup water and puree very well to produce a smoothish green liquid. Add minced garlic, lemon juice, zest and olive oil. Pulse to blend. Add plain yogurt, sea salt and white pepper. Puree for 2 minutes to thoroughly blend and finely mince all ingredients. Check consistency and add ¼ cup more water to thin if desired.
Place fine mesh sieve over 6 cup bowl, pour cucumber mixture in batches working soup through the sieve with the back of a wooden spoon. This will produce a creamier soup. Chilled soup for at least an hour before serving. Divide into small bowls, sprinkle finely chopped chives on top or lemon basil micro greens. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil and serve cold.
Inspired by a cucumber yogurt soup at Cakes and Ale, Decatur, Georgia.