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Chilled Cucumber Soup

Cucumbers are native to Asia, where they have been eaten for thousands of years. They contain a great deal of water, which makes them particularly refreshing in the hot summer months. When choosing cucumbers, avoid the waxed variety sold in grocery stores year-round, and instead seek out the long, thin-skinned English or hothouse variety. It has a superior flavor, less water and far fewer seeds. Three lemon cucumbers can be substituted for the single English (hothouse) cucumber, if you like.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 large English (hothouse) cucumber, peeled,
      halved, seeded and coarsely grated, plus 6
      paper-thin cucumber slices with skin intact for
      garnish
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill, plus 6 dill sprigs
      for garnish
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 Tbs. white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Line a sieve with cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Spoon the yogurt into the sieve and let drain in the refrigerator for 4 hours. Discard the captured liquid and place the yogurt in the bowl.

Add the grated cucumber, garlic, olive oil, mint, chopped dill and milk and mix well. Stir in the vinegar. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Before serving the soup, season with salt and pepper. Ladle into chilled individual bowls and garnish each serving with a cucumber slice and a dill sprig. Serve well chilled.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Series, Summer, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1997).