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
Recently I posted a very positive review for Michele Scicolone’s The Italian Vegetable Cookbook. And I’m on a tear for making agua frescas.
Here a unique “blend” thanks to Michele. It’s a soup but it’s almost an agua fresca. Leave out the vinegar [and maybe salt and pepper] and you could happily drink away Michele’s combo of cucumber and water.
Cucumbers are perhaps the most versatile of our foods. We eat and drink them, even slice them and put them on our eyes. They are subtle, delicate, distinctive, versatile.
In making this soup/cream, you want to retain the power of the delicacy. This cream/soup should just ever so slightly drift across your palate letting the cucumber aroma and coolness embrace you like an autumn fog. So, go easy on the salt and pepper and vinegar. You want those ingredients to intensify the cucumber flavor, not overwhelm it.
You can serve this dish as the starter for any meal. For a long dinner with several courses, this can be a surprise intermediary, a break between two heavier dishes to lighten up the mouth and refresh your guests.
On a hot summer night, combining this dish with a salad will create an accomplished meal.
Cold Cucumber Cream with Tomato Salsa
Yield: serves 4
- 1 ¼ pounds cucumbers [3-4 large or 8-10 Kirbys]
- 2 scallions chopped
- ¾ cup water
- 1 teaspoons white vinegar [more or less to your taste]
- Salta and freshly ground pepper
- 1 medium tomato
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Peel the cucumbers and cut lengthwise in half. With a small spoon, scoop out the seed and discard them.
Finely chop enough of the cucumbers to make ½ cup. Cover and refrigerate for the salsa.
Cut the remaining cumbers into 1-inch chunks. In a blender or food processor, combine the cucumber chunks, 1 of the scallions and the water. Puree until smooth. Season to taste with the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pour the soup into a covered container and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.
Just before serving, cut the tomato in half through the step end. Remove the core and squeeze the halves to extract some the seeds and juice; discard them. Cut the tomato in ½-inch dice and place in a small bowl. Finely chop the remaining scallion and add it to the bowl, along with the chopped cucumber and the basil. Toss with the oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Taste the soup for seasoning. Spoon it into chilled bowls, top each bowl with some of the salsa and serve.
Source: The Italian Vegetable Cookbook by Michele Scicolone
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60MM Macro Lens, F/5.6, 1/50th second, ISO-3200