Monday, November 07, 2011

warm cucumber soup

By Julie

Holy crap I love dreary, drizzly days. Can someone relocate me to London? Or help me buy a cozy cottage on a moor? I am seriously the most productive on days like that. Which isn't so great if you happen to live in Denver. But, as it turns out, those days do come along a couple times a year here and it did the other day and I kicked some butt. One of my most favorite things to do on a day off is to cook in the middle of the day, for the sake of this poor blog's photographs. And what better a recipe for a dreary September day than warm, yet still slightly summery, soup?
And what's even more lovely about it is that I'm battling the onslaught of a cold. Just that horrible little drip in the back of your throat. I know it's chicken soup that you're supposed to eat, but any warm soup feels particularly good to eat when you feel kind of blech-y...even with dairy in it - aren't you supposed to not eat dairy with a cold? I don't know anything.
The recipe for this calls for fried parsley for a garnish. I was pretty excited to try making it, but I'm not sure it works all that well for a soup garnish. The crispy leaves get soggy pretty quick. It looks really nice and tastes pretty good at first, but if it's just gonna turn soggy, the mess of splattered oil is a little hard to justify. I don't know - up to you. I think the crispy little leaves would be great on top of a meat (I'm picturing meatloaf) or a paté/purée (like an eggplant dip or tapenade). They're also kind of fun to snack on, with a little salt sprinkled on.
In the original recipe, it said to cool the soup completely and either let it sit covered for 45 minutes or refrigerate it overnight. Then, to warm it back up and blend in an additional 1/2 cup of whole milk. I didn't do that. I didn't understand it. I mean, I know soup is definitely better the next day, but why do you have to wait to put in the milk? I don't even know why you need more creaminess. That being said, since I didn't do that part, I have no idea what I'm missing. It's probably the most amazing soup and it probably doesn't make your fried parsley go limp. Dammit.
warm cucumber soup
adapted from Yvette Van Boven, Home Made, serves about 6

6 cups broth (I used chicken)
2 medium potatoes (Yukon Gold would be good, though I just used russet), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (or 2 fresh sprigs)
2 medium cucumbers, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper

flat-leaf parsley leaves
high-heat oil, such as refined olive or coconut oil, or lard

1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, add the broth, potatoes, onion, celery, bay leaf and thyme. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

2. Remove the bay leaf and, if you used them, the thyme sprigs. Put in the cucumbers and simmer for 5 minutes more.

3. Remove the pot from heat and purée the soup until smooth. Obviously, an immersion blender is easiest, but you can purée in a blender too - doing it in batches.

4. Stir in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. If you're broth is salty, like mine was, you probably won't need to add additional salt.

5. Heat the frying oil in a saucepan over high heat to 350 degrees. You don't have to completely fill the saucepan with oil - if you're frying up a ton of parsley leaves, I'd just do it in batches so you're not wasting tons of oil. Throw in the parsley and jump back - it will splatter! Fry for about 10 seconds or so; the parsley should still be bright green. Remove the parsley with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. 

Serve the soup garnished with a heap of the crunchy parsley. Hopefully you won't be sick when eating this!

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