Nava’s Cool as a Cucumber Soup

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Well, it appears that summer has finally arrived in Toronto (gee, only two months late!).  Under normal circumstances, July and August herald brilliantly sunny days with lush green lawns, a profusion of garden flowers and lazy swishing leaves on tree branches overhanging our suburban streets.  The temperatures hover around 30-32C (86-90F), more like 40C (104F) with the Humidex reading (what the temperature actually feels like when you factor in the humidity).  Unlike the very unusual circumstances we’ve endured thus far: frigid temperatures and rain, rain, rain.

Since the forecast predicts sun for the rest of the week and weekend, there are many happy Torontonians heading to work today (or, more likely, calling in sick to work today).  What does the return to summer mean to me?  First off, the four plants I attempted to grow this year (planted back in May) will finally begin to yield some bounty (I noticed a nascent green pepper yesterday evening–whoo hoo!); also, I’ll need to start bringing bottles of water with me on my walks with the dogs (for The Girls, not for me); in addition, my skin will begin to turn the same understated shade of beige as untreated newsprint, implying that I am, indeed, not as anemic as my usual printer-paper white hue would suggest; and, lastly, the only foods I’ll want to eat are those that don’t require cooking.  Basically, more than anything else, summer means trying to keep cool.

When I think back to my childhood, my friends and I possessed a huge arsenal of methods to stave off the heat in summer.  To wit, running through the sprinkler while wearing our bathing suits.  Or walking in the rain in our bathing suits, then rubbing mud all over ourselves and running through the sprinkler to wash it off.  Having water pistol fights in our bathing suits, collapsing in a giddy heap on the now-wet (and cool) lawn. Heading down to my parents’ basement, then sneaking into the cedar closet to hold a cool “private clubhouse meeting” in our bathing suits.

These days, I am loathe to do pretty much anything in my bathing suit (who am I kidding? I don’t even own a bathing suit!).  Consequently, I’ve had to find other means of cooling down.  Sure, I can run through the sprinkler wearing my T-shirt and shorts, but that isn’t nearly as much fun.  Instead, I seek out summer foods that will do the job.

Often, all I want for dinner is a fresh leafy salad or sliced tomato or crisp granny smith apple (now that the latter have finally made their return on my menus) and be done with it.  Not so the HH.  So, the other evening after a later-than-usual walk with The Girls, the HH and I returned home to utter the eternal DDD question:  what should we have for dinner?  (Unlike so many of my bloggy peers, I am not gifted with the ability to plan my week’s menus in advance; besides, my tastes are so capricious that I’d probably change my mind on the designated day and decide I wanted something else entirely).

Most evenings, we pull open the refrigerator door and stand immobile, peering up and across each shelf as we scan the contents for a sign:  which of the melee of fruits and veggies do we feel like consuming at that moment?  (Sometimes this procedure takes far too long and really is not very eco-friendly, what with that door open the whole time.  So then I feel even more guilty about not pre-planning my menus.  On the other hand, it diminishes the need for air conditioning).

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For some reason, lately, I’ve been on a cucumber kick.  I’d never been enamored of cucumbers as a kid (or even a young woman), but recently, I seem to crave cucumbers.  I can’t get enough cucumber. I love me some cucumber! (Okay, I’m exaggerating a tad. While that last sentence is, in fact, true, I’ve also been fixated for a time on the wild, wacky and perverse search terms that people use to find this blog. That last line was just really just my way of provoking the searches.  Being provocative with a cucumber, if you will. Ooops, there I go again.)

In any case,  we found a lovely, firm, English cucumber (yikes, can’t seem to help myself) in the fridge, and I pondered how I could use it besides on its own as a snack.  Then I remembered all the bookmarked recipes I’d set aside in Nava Atlas’s fabulous Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons, which I wrote about shortly after receiving the book last winter.  At the time, cold cucumber soup was a distant memory–but now it’s finally summer!  I knew the soup would be perfect.

We whipped up a batch of Cool as a Cucumber Soup in no time, and devoured almost the entire contents in one sitting (the recipe actually serves 4-6 people, but we loved it that much).  I also had the leftovers the next day for lunch and can vouch that it doesn’t suffer from its overnight sojourn in the fridge.  In fact, I’d say the herbs made their presence known just a bit more the second day, and all the flavors had a chance to meld.

The soup is thick and rich with shreds of bouncy and refreshing cucumber throughout.  The combination of three fresh herbs provides a lovely counterpoint with their aromatic flavors and bit of crunch, offset by the slightly pungent scallion slices scattered here and there.  Every spoonful provided a little oasis of cool.

I have no doubt that this soup will become a summer staple from now on with its refreshing, cooling effects.   Just don’t expect me to wear my bathing suit when I eat it.

[Oh–and some cool news re: Sweet Freedomfor those of you in the Toronto area!  I’ll be appearing on Toronto’s Breakfast Television next Monday, talking about healthy cakes, frostings and toppings, and sampling some of the goodies from the book! Yippee!]

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© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

Last Year at this Time: Sweet Things Times Three (Sweet Potato and Ginger Salad)

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Comments

  1. Still freezing here – enjoy the hot sunshine for me, please! And an extra bowl of that soup 🙂

  2. I think Nava’s soups have such wonderful flavor combinations. I really enjoy them all.

    I used to love to run through the sprinkler.

  3. I think I should buy this cookbook. I’m leaving most of my cookbooks behind (not yours of course) as an excuse to buy all new ones. I’m very hungry right now and your photo is working on my brain, but I doubt we have any cucumbers on hand. The fridge is pretty bare.

  4. glad summer has arrived and am jealous that you still have sprinklers – they are virtually outlawed here thanks to our continuing drought – we loved them when we were little too

    I hated cucumber as a kid but have grown to appreciate it now – perhaps I am ready to try this soup which sounds great for a hot day (and I too can’t organise myself enough to plan a weekly menu – but love a little inspiration on the day)

  5. That would have been the perfect meal for tonight! It was way to hot to cook anything. I’m sure we’ll have a few more days like this, so this recipe will certainly come in handy. Also, we had a bounty of cucumbers in our last basket from our CSA farmer; this soup would be a great way to use a couple of them!
    Congrats on the TV show!

  6. Haha, I own 4 bathing suits and all 4 still have their tags despite being 5-8 years of age!!!

    And we don’t pre plan dinner either. I tried, we ended up throwing out huge amounts of food because everyone always changed their minds and no longer felt like anything that had been planned, so we just kind of wing it every morning too.

    Mmm this soup looks amazing! Perfect for warm days! Can I ask if Nava’s recipe for sour cream contains tofu or soy? (I’ve been hankering after her book, but I’m still a little undecided).

  7. Great looking soup!!! I’m a huge soup fan, so this is right up my alley 🙂

  8. I love how nice and thick the soup looks! I made a soup like this not too long ago and it was okay but I’m still not used to the idea of cold soup.

  9. Reminds me of cucumber raita…mmm…this would be great paired with a yummy chickpea & veg curry roti!

    I used to have one of those jump ropes with little holes in it that you would plug one of the handles into the garden hose, and then skip, while the water shot at you from all directions. Glorious.

    Now I just stick my feet in the sink 🙁

  10. I have that meal planning problem to. Sometimes it does turn out for the best. I’ll have to say I think you made good use of your cucumber. Nava Altas has some great recipes!

    I’m glad you are finally getting a taste of summer. For cooling off I love a grown up version of running through the sprinklers. I wear tank tops and peasant skirts and sit with a tall glass of lemonade under those clever misters. Ahhhh!

  11. I have two HUGE cucumbers in my fridge at the moment, and now I know exactly what I’m going to do with them! Thank you!

  12. This looks really, really lovely! I am definitely trying it this weekend, so thanks for the recipe (and the gorgeous pics)!

    BTW, I adored running through the sprinkler, fully-clothed, as a kid, too! My little bro and I also loved putting our swimming suits on, jumping on our bikes, and riding through the sprinkler as it wafted over our driveway!

    And, I too, do not even own a swimming suit these days 🙂

    Great post – thanks for making me smile!

  13. A delightful presentation! I love cucumber soup — it’s one of my favorites!

  14. I’ve actually been doing lots of raw soups this summer – but this one looks good, too! I love cucumbers – they are so nice and cool when it’s hot!

  15. Shoot! Forgot to say “merde” for your television spot!

  16. I know it’s kinda weird, but I do really love cucumbers… Can’t get enough of them! Never made them into a soup before, but what a refreshing idea.

  17. i remember running through sprinklers a lot when i was little as well – so much fun! we had a creek to stomp around in and we were lucky to live just a mile away from a community pool – summers were the best! salads, salads, and more salads are what i too crave in the summer – sometimes i like adding on some roasted veggies to the salad (roasted up in our small toaster oven – i’m too fussy with the heat as it is to use big oven) or something of the sorts – salads are the best! i think i love them even more since making my own dressings, but anyways……(i get rambling so easily!) i never cared much for cucumbers just until a few months ago – they were a veggie i never liked and lately my new “thing” has been to learn to love the foods i dislike (other veggies i used to abhor & now adore: beets, kale, mushrooms, parsnips, and raw carrots). so i ate a cucumber every day and in about 2 weeks time i came to loooove them. w00t! i crave ’em too and i’m gonna have to make Nava’s soup. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! thanks, Ricki! you all stay cool!

  18. First I thought this was a dip! It looks so creamy and fresh. My crazy brain tells me to use zucchini instead of ccumber because I have so many. What do you think?
    Oh, and how exiting that you will be on TV!

  19. You know I love cold soups! This looks awesome, Ricki.

  20. oh my, it has been so hot and humid here that this is just what i’d need… even though i’m not a huge fan of cucs 🙂

  21. Delicious! It’s finally, finally summer here in Boston too.

  22. This is sop refreshing for the summer season Ricki.

  23. That’s a gorgeous soup, Ricki. Looking forward to the BT clip!

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