While the rest of the country is finally cooling down, in the Bay Area, right on schedule, indian summer is warming us up. Last weekend was hot in Lake County where I cooked for forty men from the Center for Spiritual Living of Santa Rosa who were on their annual retreat. Hoping to create a light but satisfying lunch, I concocted this chilled cucumber soup. For the omnivores in the crowd, I made it with yogurt and buttermilk. After the jump you will see how I made a vegan version, as well as the salad bar lunch which accompanied this cooling soup.
CHILLED, MINTED CUCUMBER SOUP
Make this soup at least two hours before you plan to serve it, to allow time for chilling, and for flavors to meld. You could even make it a day ahead of time, but adjust seasonings just before serving.
1 large (14-16 ounce) cucumber, peeled or not depending on whether the skin is fresh and tender
1/2 small white or yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled (optional)
8-10 fresh mint leaves
2 green onions, trimmed
1 cup thick coconut milk
2 cups rice or soy milk
1/4 pound tofu, drained
1/2-1 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar, or to taste
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice, or to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. If the seeds appear to be large and coarse, scoop out and discard them. Otherwise, keep the seeds in place. Chop one half of the cucumber coarsely and place in your blender jar. Dice the other half small and set aside.
2. Trim the green onions, cut straight across into fine rounds and set aside.
3. Put all the ingredients (other than the reserved cucumber and green onions) into the blender jar and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning by adding more lemon juice, umeboshi vinegar or salt and pepper as needed.
4. Pour the soup into a large serving bowl. Add the reserved cucumber and half the green onion. Chill for at least two hours. Garnish with the remaining green onion, and with additional mint sprigs if you wish.
Photo: The salad bar lunch which accompanied the cucumber soup included: shrimp, veggie and rice salad, a vegan tofu, veggie and rice salad, grated carrots, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds, feta cheese, kidney beans, mixed spring greens with an herb vinaigrette dressing.