In your first taste you will know that this soup is something special, something deliciously special. This soup has a dreamy quality: some body, yet still thin, the subtle flavor of cucumber but layered with melon, and an underlying tang that you may recognize as yogurt + crème fraiche. Or you may just sit there with your mouth pleasantly filled.
The soup seems pillowy soft. The contrasting salsa has crunch and heat. This is a ying-yang dish par excellence.
The first thing you think about when you taste this soup is how quickly you can secure a second helping. You won’t be thinking about the rest of the meal. About that protein scent in the kitchen: chicken, or steak, or … No, you’ll be focused on enjoying a flavor combination — cucumber and melon — that you may not have experienced. And I suspect the ratios of ingredients here, with the inclusion of yogurt and crème fraiche, is something you’ve never enjoyed before.
As grand as the soup is, I’m intrigued at how you might tinker with this recipe. No great changes, but adding some scallions or diced onion, a dash of vinegar, some fresh herbs,… All these changes will have impact, for this soup is first and foremost delicate. So, if you opt to personalize, do so with a light hand. I suggest you start with this basic recipe, because it’s truly perfect. I’m just suggesting that, as any foodie would do, you might be inspired to make a better perfect.
Chilled Cucumber-Melon Soup with Radish-Mint Salsa
Yield: 6 cups
For the Soup:
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt [not Greek yogurt]
- 3/4 cup crème fraîche
- 1 medium seedless hothouse cucumber
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1 small clove garlic
- 2 cups very ripe honeydew or galia melon
For the Radish-Mint Salsa:
- 8 radishes, julienned
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Sprinkling of snipped fresh chives
- A small dollop of yogurt or crème fraîche
For the soup, in a blender, puree 3/4 cup each plain yogurt and crème fraîche, 1 medium-size seedless hothouse cucumber, in chunks, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1 small clove garlic, crushed through a press. Pour into a bowl.
Add 2 cups very ripe honeydew or galia melon to blender; puree. Add to cucumber mixture and stir to combine; chill.
For the salsa, julienne 8 radishes; combine in a bowl with 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper. Stir in olive oil.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with radish salsa, a sprinkling of snipped fresh chives, and a small dollop of yogurt or crème fraîche.
Source: Frank Melodia
Photo Information [top]: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5 for 1/25th second at ISO-3200
This is the salad Suzen pairs with a Moroccan Spiced Chicken [yesterday’s post!]. The chicken is hot out of the oven, coated with a sweet and spicy sauce. This salad has its own heat, from different sources, and its own sweetness from honey. The salad is served cold so you can alternate bites of “hot” chicken and “chilled” salad.
This contrast is delightful and, in Suzen’s menu, amplified by a Moroccan Couscous that sits between this salad and the chicken. The recipe for the couscous come tomorrow.
We adapted this recipe from the cookbook Ottolenghi, one of the three exceptional volumes by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. You’ll enjoy the deliciously authentic, and often simple, recipes in those books. Even better, you’ll find them an inspiration to experiment and create.
In this recipe, different vinegars and honeys, different chilies, or exceptional salts can make a substantial difference in the final salad. Yes, even the poppy seeds can be swapped out for your personal favorites.
Cucumber and Poppy Seed Salad
Yield: serves 4
- 6 small cucumbers
- 1 small onion, finely minced
- 2 mild red chilies or jalapenos thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon parsley for garnish, optional
- Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chop off and discard the end of the cucumbers. Slice the cucumbers at an angle, so you end up with pieces ⅜-inch thick and 1-¼ inches long.
Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl. Use your hands to massage the flavors gently into the cucumbers. The salad should be sharp and sweet, almost like a pickle.
If not serving immediately, you might need to drain some liquid off later. Adjust the seasoning again afterward.
Sources: adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5.0 for 1/25th second at ISO-3200