By Courtney Higgs
Soup is one of our favorite things to eat. From bisque, to stew, to chowder and every variety in between, it’s perhaps the most comforting thing to eat during the winter. Slurping spoonfuls of piping hot stock during the summer doesn’t sound quite as appealing, but before you relegate the dish to a winter-only option, check out this lovely chilled soup recipe. You’ll get all the comforts of the classic meal, without running the risk of overheating in the sky high summer temps. Win, win!
The recipe comes from Chef Mark Peel, renowned chef and author of the cookbook New Classic Family Dinners ($4, amazon.com). While Peel’s background has centered largely on the fine dining scene (he was the head chef at Wolfgang Puck’s Beverly Hills landmark Spago for its first three years!), he’s made a departure into the LA seafood scene with his new concept, Prawn. This broth based fast casual experience, nestled in Downtown’s bustling Grand Central Market, combines the most pristine pristine and Chef Peel’s decades old dedication to using only the freshest, local ingredients and some pretty innovative cooking techniques like the use of steam kettles to expedite the simmering process.
Read on for the full recipe and if you’re passing through L.A., try it for yourself at Prawn.
CHILLED CUCUMBER, YOGURT AND AVOCADO SOUP
YIELD 6-8 Servings
2 pounds Japanese or English cucumbers
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (about ½ bunch), rinsed, dried and roughly chopped
½ cup mint leaves, rinsed, dried and roughly copped
1 quart whole milk yogurt
1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 to 8 ice cubes
1 tablespoon chopped chives
¼ ripe, but firm avocado, diced to ¼ inch to add as garnish on each bowl of soup once finished
3 small butterflied and salt, pepper, cayenne seasoned shrimp, sautéed until just cooked (cool before adding to soup)
HOW TO MAKE IT
Peel the cucumbers, peeling deep so some of the flesh goes with the peels over the bowl. Place the peels in the bowl and cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Discard seeds and roughly chop half the cucumbers and place in the bowl with the peels. Cut the remaining cucumbers into ¼ cubes and toss in a colander with 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Set the colander with the diced cucumbers over a bowl or plate for 15 minutes
Working in batches if necessary, combine the cucumber peels, chopped cucumbers, celery, parsley, mint and 1 cup of the yogurt in a blender. Puree, stopping and starting the blender if necessary to make sure all ingredients are pureed. Scrape into a bowl and stir in the remaining yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice and 2 teaspoons salt. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Strain into another bowl through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing the solids against the sides of the strainer to extract all of the juice
Rinse the salted cucumbers in fresh water. Stir into the soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary and cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.
Place one ice cube in each of the 6-8 bowls. Ladle in the soup and top with a sprinkling of mint chiffonade, chopped chives, diced avocado and butterflied shrimp if desired.
This beautiful green soup is perfect for summer. It’s important to use Japanese or English cucumbers because you want to use the skin, and regular cucumbers are typically too bitter or skin is waxed. It’s also important to find good-quality, creamy plain whole milk yogurt (Greek is good too!), and serve the soup ice cold.
Excerpted from New Classic Family Dinners by Mark Peel. Copyright © 2009. Available from John Wiley & Sons, Inc