Monday, 23 August 2010

Cool cucumber soup

Serves 4

8 cucumbers, peeled
a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, or half a lemon, squeezed
a small clove of garlic, crushed
a small white onion, sliced into rings
2 teaspoons of olive oil
sea salt and pepper

Split each cucumber vertically and use a teaspoon to scrape out all the seeds. Chop the remaining flesh into chunks and process to a coarse purée. Pour the whole lot into a saucepan and set over a low heat to bubble and reduce. If you don't have a processor you can just chop the chunks up a bit more and heat them in the saucepan like that - it will just take a little longer to break down. Give the cucumber purée a stir every now and then and check it is not burning. Taste it too - if it tastes grainy and crunchy then it needs more cooking. The cucumber should soften, smooth out and thicken up, this takes about 20 minutes of gentle heat with little bubbles blip-blip-blipping away.

When you think the cucumber is cooked enough, pour it into a blender with the raw onion rings and crushed garlic in the bottom. Add a pinch of salt and pulse then blend into a smooth consistency. If you have one of those blenders where you can take the top off while its blending, then do that and slowly drizzle in first the vinegar or lemon juice and then the olive oil. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. It should be a tiny bit more salty than you like as this will lessen as the soup cools. When you are happy with the taste pour the soup into a serving bowl and chill until cold.

To serve, pop an ice cube into each bowl for extra chill (or you could put the soup in the freezer until its just starting to freeze) and ladle over the soup. Scatter torn mint and basil leaves over and serve.

You could eat this with crusty bread, or put some little dishes with chopped chillis, toasted seeds, fried bacon bits or anything else you fancy on the table for people to help themselves.

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