Iced “French” Cucumber Soup, a Summer Treat


Iced “French” Cucumber Soup, a Summer Treat 

Here’s a refreshing and hearty cold soup, a little suggestive of Crème Vichyssoise, that I learned over fifty years ago. My wife, Christina, had learned the recipe from a family for whom she babysat as a student. It’s an unusual dish in that the cucumbers are cooked, then pureed then chilled. 

While there are cold uncooked cucumber soups in France, they’re more like gazpacho or the Middle Eastern cucumber and yogurt soup. So I don’t know if this is actually an old-fashioned soup from France, or an American concoction. Vichyssoise, after all, was invented in New York, although by a French-born chef. I have not encountered this type of cucumber soup in France or in my culinary reading. 

The original recipe used chicken broth, and it’s delicious. But the soup it can also be made successfully substituting vegetable bouillon cubes.

The recipe makes 6-7 cups, to serve six. Make ahead and refrigerate, Serve cold.

4 cups unseasoned chicken broth or 8 cups water plus 3 large vegetarian bouillon cubes

1 1/2 large (European style) cucumbers, unpeeled, cut in chunks

1 large onion, peeled and chunked

1 large stick celery, rinsed and chunked

1 medium-large russet potato, peeled and chunked

1 medium clove garlic

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon dry thyme

Pinch of cayenne

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup cream

Salt to taste

Minced parsley for garnish 

Bring broth or bouillon, vegetables, herbs and spices, but not milk, cream, salt or minced parsley to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1/2 hour. Remove bay leaves. 

Let cool a little. Transfer the liquids and vegetables to a blender or food processor, part at a time, and puree them. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the milk and cream. Taste and add salt, a little at a time, until the soup is well seasoned. 

Refrigerate until chilled. The soup will store 5-6 days cold, Stir and check the salt before serving. Serve cold, sprinkled with a little minced parsley.

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