The hot weather took its sweet time getting here this summer, but once it arrived it didn't mess around. We had temps in the high 90s and low 100s here earlier this week, until the thunderstorms finally broke the heatwave yesterday. I kind of like the hot weather myself. The extreme temperatures are the closest thing we have to seasons around here, and I'm happy to have an excuse to do very little and drink lots of cold things, like this cucumber soup.
I wish I had a precise recipe for you, and I even thought about putting off this post until I did, but this is so easy and so flexible that I think you can probably wing it based on these instructions. The most important thing is to get a nice balance of ingredients so it doesn't taste taste like pureed tzatziki and the other flavors don't overwhelm the cucumber. This actually improves with age - I made a big pitcher earlier this week, and we ate it every night for dinner, just adding a bit more of this or that to it to stretch it and improve the flavor. We got the Armenian cucumbers from a friend's garden, but you can find them in farmers markets, and possibly even grocery stores this time of year. They're also really nice in salads - worth seeking out even if you don't make this soup!
Chilled Cucumber Soup
About 1.5-2 pounds of thin-skinned Armenian cucumbers - pale green or striped
1 standard sized 6 oz cup plain greek yogurt
1 small clove fresh garlic (can also use a couple of scallions instead of you have some)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (about)
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
a handful of watercress
a sprig of mint
a few sprigs of italian parsley
a couple of glugs of olive oil (4-5 Tablespoons)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or hot chile powder
at least 1 tsp sea salt
a few generous grinds of pepper
To prepare the cucumbers, wash them and run over them quickly with a peeler - you don't have to remove all of the skin (or any, really) but I think it's nice to remove some. Cut them in half and then split down the middle. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Cut the cucumber flesh into chunks no larger than 1 inch square. Place the chunks in a blender or pitcher if you have a hand blender.
Add the yogurt, garlic and chicken stock to the pitcher, and puree until completely smooth. Blend in the herbs, then add the seasoning and blend again. Add the olive oil last and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning. If it seems relatively well balanced, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours to let the flavors blend. If it seems to have too much yogurt flavor, add a bit more chicken stock or olive oil. If it has too much garlic flavor, add more cucumber. If it seems too rich or creamy, add a dash more vinegar or some more herbs. I like to sip this out of small glasses, but bowls and spoons work well too. Some toasty croutons are a great addition too.