A series of seasonal market recipes
This weekend at your local market you will experience a crescendo of cucumbers. It’s their time and they will be abundant. Cucumbers are the flavor of summer. They taste cool and green and shady. And they satisfy both thirst and hunger. In our house, when it’s really hot, the kitchen flag flies at half mast and we’re only “cooking” cold food, so cucumbers get eaten every day in some way, shape, or liquidy form—cucumber salad, cucumber sandwiches, quick-pickled cukes, cucumber martinis, grilled veggies with cucumber dressing, cucumbers stuffed with pimento cheese, and in our favorite summer concoction, Cucumber Wasabi Soup. Which is one of the best things I make, I’m told.
I think it’s because of this soup that Skip and I are invited to more covered dish dinners in the summer than any other time. “What can I bring?” “That wasabi cucumber soup, of course.” And I get asked for the recipe more than for any other thing I make. So here is a recipe that does not have to be followed rigidly. The only thing you must follow exactly is to use nonfat or low fat dairy. Anything else will coat your tongue with butterfat after three bites and totally block the clean, refreshing flavor.
CB’s Cucumber Wasabi Soup
Make 4-5 servings. Can be stretched by adding more buttermilk
Place the following ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until very smooth.
2 cups cucumbers (2–3), partially peeled, coarsely chopped
½ cup scallions (2–3), coarsely chopped, green tops included
1 cup nonfat yogurt
1 tbl chives, finely chopped
1 tsp sugar
1–2 tsp wasabi paste or powder (see note)
½ tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
the above mixture yields approx. 2.5 cups
Pour blended puree into mixing bowl or serving container then add:
1 cup nonfat or low fat cottage cheese
2 cups nonfat buttermilk
1 cup nonfat sour cream
Add to taste:
Cayenne pepper, don’t be shy
Fresh dill or mint
• All wasabi is not the same. Some is potent, some bland. I suggest starting with the lesser amount, allow a couple of minutes to pass for it to bloom, then adjust to suit your taste.
• I sometimes add an additional cucumber, finely diced into perfect squares, to the finished soup. Makes a nice texture contrast with the cottage cheese.
• Can make this up to two days ahead, leaving out the cucumber cubes mentioned above. Will last up to 4 days in the fridge.
• For a thicker soup—best when serving as a meal—you can thicken with ½ packet unflavored gelatin, dissolved in ¼ cup water, brought to boil, cooled, and added to processor mixture.
• Cold food requires more seasoning than warm.
Dish this up as a first course or serve from a carafe (or vase!) and pass around in cocktail glasses for a fun appetizer. It delivers a bolt of heat and aromatic rush from the cayenne, mustard, and especially the wasabi. And cottage cheese is the surprise component—a pleasing texture paired with the cukes.