Because I semi-vacation when the Alpha Dude in my life is up here in Vermont visiting, I tend to work very pedal-to-the-metal when I’m here solo. I eat more simply, too, both because I’m the one cooking, shopping and doing the dishes and because, again, I’m spending a lot of time catching up on all the work I didn’t do while he was here plus my regular work (I’m a self-employed writer! I get to choose which 70 hours of the week I want to work!) (I am not complaining. I love what I do, so the line between work and play is sketchy at best).
But. This doesn’t mean I don’t eat well.
For some years one hot weather staple almost always in my fridge is a large container of Cucumber-Yogurt-Green-Grape-Mint Soup. I am sure I sip or spoon a bathtub’s worth each summer. I often bring it to potlucks or serve it to friends at summer dinners. It is almost always extremely well-received (except for the very occasional person who dislikes the acidic tang of non-sweet yogurt, or who can’t wrap his or her mind around cold soup).
To me and most people, though, it is just the ultimate in refreshing, #summerfood supreme.
Yet also healthy, easy to make, and ready and willing in the fridge.
Although I gave a recipe for it in Passionate Vegetarian, where it’s poetically titled “Lunar Gazpacho”, the truth is that while I follow the basic outlines of that recipe, I never follow the measurements, and thus it never comes out exactly the same way. Sometimes it’s thicker, sometimes thinner, sometimes quite smooth, sometimes chunky, always a little sweet from the grapes and usually zinged with mint (though sometimes I use other herbs).
Whichever way I go, it’s always so good.
When on my own and under a deadline, I have even been known on occasion to eat for three meals a day, with just a slice of buttered wholegrain toast on the side… Not that I tell anybody this.
But usually I have it with almost anything: a main-dish salad of some sort, a sandwich, a portion of leftover casserole eaten cold… It is a natural companion to anything vaguely Middle Eastern, but then I think it’s kind of happy with almost anything.
Here’s what tonight’s #DinnerWithDragonwagon was. Just about perfect for a solo cool dinner on a hot night.
I’ll follow with a loosey-goosey version of the recipe.
Chilled Cucumber-Yogurt Soup with Green Grapes & Fresh Mint
Warmed Sprouted-Grain Tortilla, Spread with Hummus,
Topped with Crumbled Maplebrook Farm Feta,
Diced Kalamata Olives, Arugula-Mesclun Salad, &Middle Eastern Salsa (Diced Tomato, Radish, Chile, Cilantro, Dill, Mint, & Basil with Salt & Lemon)
A Sliced New Jersey Peach
Okay, loves: the soup — in your food processor, you make a chunky puree of:
- chunked cucumber
green grapes, removed from the stem
Add the following ingredients:
- a handful of almonds or walnuts (raw, unsalted)
a few coarsely chopped green onions;
a couple cloves fresh garlic (or, in season, garlic scapes)
a whole lot of fresh mint (or fresh dill, or a combination of the two, along with a little cilantro if you like)
a little optional agave to bring up the sweetness of the grapes
salt to taste
Turn this puree into a large mixing or serving bowl, or a big refrigerator storage container with a lid. Now, stir in enough liquid to make it the consistency of a not-too-thick, textured smoothie.
About half the liquid should be:
- unsweetened plain yogurt, buttermilk, Greek yogurt, or kefir
The other half should be
* water (I used to use vegetable stock but these days am using water.)
Whisk well, and taste. Refrigerate.
Eat/ drink / sip your way down. If you want to fancy it up, scatter some minced herbs over the to, some sliced cukes in half-rounds. Bliss on a hot afternoon.
The quality of the cukes is one element that can make or break this. You want unwaxed; preferably Persian or Euro, but any variety will do as long as you’ve tasted it and ascertained that it is sweet and fresh and crisp-crunchy, not bitter, and either seedless or young enough that the seeds are barely formed and tender. Generally, I leave part of the cuke unchunked, and dice it carefully, stirring it in at the end for texture.