Well, it was bound to happen. The temperatures here in Nebraska hit the triple digits today, and the last thing anyone feels like doing is turning on the stove. Sure, you can fire up the grill and cook outside, but honestly once we are in "Excessive Heat Warning" territory, I'm inclined to spend as little time outside as possible. I did manage to squeeze in a walk at 8:00 this morning when the temperature was a mere 80 degrees, but other than that it has been an indoor day. This native Minnesota girl doesn't do so well once the mercury climbs above 90.
But I keep a close eye on the forecast and when I saw this heatwave coming I decided it was high time I came up with a chilled soup with Nordic vibes to bust out for occasions just like these. I studied in southern Spain in college, and during those unbearably hot days in August and early September my house mother would prepare a big bowl of gazpacho to keep in the fridge. Every meal began with a small bowl of this cooling, delicious elixir. I wanted to come up with something with the same sense of refreshing ease and seasonality, but with ingredients common to the Nordic region.
Cooling cucumber, vibrant yellow and jalapeño peppers and creamy avocado form the base of this easy vegetarian soup. The preparation itself couldn't be simpler...a brief stint in the blender followed by a few hours in the fridge. Done. When you are ready to serve, a few simple garnishes really elevate this soup from good to great: Chopped farm stand tomatoes, sautèed tiny bread cubes and a drizzle of good extra-virgin olive oil. Tuck the recipe for this refreshing and easy little soup away for those sultry summer days, or if you live in Nebraska go ahead and stop by your local farm stand ASAP and whip this up for a light supper this evening, or lunch tomorrow. I hear this crazy heat will be with us for a couple more days. Hopefully this soup helps get you through it as we dream of cooler weather ahead.
Chilled Cucumber Soup
For the Soup:
- 1 ½ pounds cucumbers coarsely chopped
- 1 yellow pepper seeded and coarsely chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper seeded and coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
- 1 large avocado peel and pit removed and coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup skyr or greek yogurt preferably full-fat
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice more to taste
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt more to taste
For the Croutons:
- 2 cups of ½ inch bread cubes I like sourdough or a rustic country loaf
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Chopped fresh tomato
- Make the Soup: Place half of the chopped cucumber in the blender. Blend until it is completely liquid. Add the remaining cucumber, peppers, garlic and dill and puree until completely smooth. Add avocado and skyr and blend again. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 teaspoons coarse salt. Blend one last time. Transfer to a bowl and adjust seasonings as necessary (you may want a little more lemon juice and/or salt). Cover and chill at least 2-3 hours or until ready to serve.
- Make the Croutons: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bread cubes. Sauté until crisp and lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and season with coarse salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Ladle the chilled soup into individual bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh tomato and croutons. Serve immediately.