This chilled cucumber yogurt soup was the result of a happy coincidence.
On Sunday our weekly CSA delivery included four English cucumbers. Normally, I would have made tzatziki , a cucumber and yogurt sauce or salad, or what my mom called “bread and butter” pickles, made with vinegar and a bit of sugar, and I would still have had cucumbers to spare.
But I didn’t have the time to do any fussing with my CSA bounty. Scrambling to make a surprise birthday dinner for my husband Kevin (one day early, hence the surprise), I put cucumbers out of my mind while concentrating on a cake, two Ottolenghi dishes (an eggplant lemon risotto and a salad with marinated, roasted peppers), and a simple grilled filet of haddock.
Our son Liam and his partner Kevin drove from Philly to DC to celebrate my husband’s birthday.
Dinner was fun and not bad if I do say so myself. As a good mother should, at the end of the visit, I offered Liam and “his Kevin” a care package. They are excellent and inventive cooks, with a fondness for vegetables. So, I figured that (along with leftover cake, of course) I would give them half my cucumbers. They seemed genuinely enthusiastic about the hand-me-down CSA cukes and told me about their favorite chilled cucumber soup recipe, from the blog called Not Quite Nigella.
I loved the concept of “5 Minute Chilled White Bean, Cucumber, Mint & Yogurt Soup,” and had all the ingredients at hand. But after translating the recipe proportions from grams to ounces (400 grams /15 ounces of beans for 1-2 portions), I knew that my tastebuds required a few adjustments. After tweaks and editing, this version still retains “Not Quite Nigella” roots, but emphasizes the cucumbers over the beans and puts the fresh mint front-and-center.
Speaking of not – I’m not going to pick a fight with a much better known blogger than me, but calling it a 5-minute soup seems a bit of an exaggeration. Maybe if you’re a super fast cook and start the timer once your ingredients are all set out – washed, peeled, chopped, zested and juiced – you can make this soup in 5 minutes. On the other hand, if you’re a normal mortal like me and count all your prep time, figure on 20 minutes. Still, it’s a good investment of minimal time for a nice result.
If you have a serious blender (of the VitaMix type), you may be able to process the soup to a fine consistency. However, if you use an immersion blender (as I did) or a food processor, you may want to put at least part of the soup through a strainer to make it smoother. I used dried beans only because I didn’t have canned – they taste the same and since they were to be pureed, the slightly mushier consistency of cooked-from-dried was fine.
The soup was a delightful first course when I made it the first time. But afterwards, I found that it is also a wonderful light lunch with a piece of good, crusty bread.