By Vida Gustafson
When I was growing up in the southern hemisphere, Christmas dinner was always a warm, sunny affair, usually outside and sometimes poolside.
This naturally affected what was served at the meal. This soup was the opening act to nearly every formal meal at my house, and it started my life-long love affair with cucumbers. I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of my green-thumbed friends this year and finally got back to making this refreshing and unconventional treat.
A couple of steps in this recipe will seem odd to you if you are a modern American cook. The cooking of the cucumber, for example, is a seemingly strange thing to do, but don’t skip that step. It intensifies and sweetens the cucumber and helps the soup blend up smoothly. This recipe is also not very heavy on ingredients; no onions, garlic or vegetable stock is used. The flavor in this soup is clear and unmuddled: cucumber, lemon and cream.
1 cucumber (12-14 inch size, 4 cups grated)
2 tbsp Butter
1⁄4 C lemon juice
1 C half and half
1⁄2 C heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
Grate your cucumber (on the larger tines, not a fine grate), and melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium to low heat. Add the grated cucumber and 1⁄2 tsp salt.
Cook over gentle heat until the cucumber turns translucent (do not brown) and bright green. This will take 7-10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and put the hot cucumber in a blender and process until smooth. How smooth is entirely up to your own taste. I usually let it have some personality left.
Add the lemon juice, half and half, and cream. Process further to combine. Taste for seasoning and add black pepper, additional salt or lemon to taste.