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Chilled Cucumber Mint Soup 黄瓜薄荷凉汤

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China doesn’t have a strong tradition of cold soups. No signature Middle Kingdom Gazpacho or colorful Dongbei cold Borscht. That doesn’t mean, however, that you cannot come up with a refreshing hot-weather way to use local ingredients with a tip of the hat to Jacques Pepin or Julia Child. That’s what I’ve been doing lately with this year’s bumper crop of crisp cucumbers, peppers, limes and mint.

 

Since you won’t find this on the take-out menu at Mr. Wang’s Noodle Heaven, that’s all the more reason to learn to make it yourself at home. I’ll show you how I do it. (Skip to the bottom if you just want the recipe.)

 

I usually buy the large “English-type” cucumbers for this recipe. The long, skinny Chinese ones with the darker, bumpy skin also work. The two I bought today weighed about 600 grams, a little more than a pound. Should have bought a third but didn’t decide to use them this way until I got home. 

 

As you know, mint is much beloved in Kunming, and is always in good supply. I bought a double handful for only 1 Yuan. Washed it and trimmed out the few tough woody stems, leaving a cup of leaves and tender stems. (Please click the photos to enlarge them.)

 

70944001_coldcucumbersoup1.thumb.jpg.77c626cc92efd429abc5ec1991f0024e.jpg     34737876_coldcucumbersoup2.thumb.jpg.90de2bf5d09d085fd2de5920fe58ae19.jpg

 

I coarsely chopped the cucumbers after peeling them and scooping out the seeds. One had seeds that needed to go, the other one didn’t (they were very small and tender.) Rough chopped the garlic, half a small red onion, and half of the hot green pepper (these are mild.) If you don’t have fresh peppers handy, a few drops of Tabasco will do instead.   

 

Put the cucumbers, mint and all the other vegetables into the blender or food processor along with the juice of one large lime (about two tablespoons.) Added about a half a cup of cold water from the fridge, a little at a time, to make it easier to blend. Whiz it up in short pulses until it’s liquid and smooth.

 

89291559_coldcucumbersoup3.thumb.jpg.76a6f0497bd69fe7a969e22dc8e5813f.jpg     150981293_coldcucumbersoup4.thumb.jpg.4f0b6b27c87e3c6a13be7fc72832d5b6.jpg

 

 

Pour it into a mixing bowl, add a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, a tablespoon of aged vinegar, a teaspoon of large-grain salt, and a generous grind of black pepper. Stir it well and add one cup of moderately thick, unsweetened yogurt. (I make my own.) Increase the yogurt to 1.5 cups if you prefer a "creamier" result. 

 

81400880_coldcucumbersoup5.thumb.jpg.eb264278869426b711d96bae2dc374aa.jpg     75749655_coldcucumbersoup6.thumb.jpg.45d15d62e92f7992266f8de67ccc9a45.jpg

 

 

Mix well with a balloon whisk and refrigerate for at least half an hour, until thoroughly chilled. Garnish with a sprig of mint and some diced cucumber when ready to serve. This is enough for two people who will want seconds, or enough for four if they are not big eaters.

 

12929387_coldcucumbersoup7(2).thumb.jpg.31392f3c577807f18f81d429719b3b5a.jpg     615443815_coldcucumbersoup8.thumb.jpg.c056fc2031b52b49fbfcca15be7f9cdf.jpg

 

 

Chilled cucumber mint soup hits the spot as a light lunch next to a chicken salad sandwich and it also works well as the first course at supper.

 

Here's the recipe. (Click "Reveal hidden contents.") 

 

Spoiler

Recipe – Chilled cucumber mint soup

Ingredients:

3 large English-style cucumbers, about 1.5 lbs., peeled, seeded, chopped

½ of a small, sweet red onion (Bermuda style,) sliced

½ mildly spicy green pepper, seeds removed, coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped

1 to 1.5 cups of fresh mint, leaves and tender stems

1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon of Kosher salt

1 or 2 grinds of black pepper

1 to 1.5 cups of thick, unsweetened yogurt

Method:

1.    In a blender or food processor, liquify the cucumber, onion, green pepper, garlic and mint, together with ½ cup of cold water added gradually in splashes. 

2.    When this becomes smooth, pour into a large bowl and mix in a teaspoon of coarse salt, a grind or two of black pepper and a tablespoon of olive oil.

3.    Use a balloon whisk to fold in a cup of thick, unsweetened yogurt.

4.    Refrigerate for at least half an hour.

5.    Garnish with a sprig of mint and a spoon or two of chopped cucumber when ready to serve. 

 

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Radial

looks great

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abcdefg

Thanks, @Radial. Hope you will give it a try. 

 

I see you live in Shenzhen. Not sure if it's true there, but unsweetened yogurt is just about impossible to find in Kunming. I finally had to start making my own. 

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Bibu

image.png.351580ef882675f91fe737159da87de7.png

 

昆明沒有這樣的酸奶麽?現在一般叫老酸奶, 基本上是30多年前是唯一能買到的酸奶

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abcdefg
8 hours ago, Bibu said:

昆明沒有這樣的酸奶麽?現在一般叫老酸奶, 基本上是30多年前是唯一能買到的酸奶

 

When I first moved to Kunming in 2007, to another part of the city, you could arrange to have yogurt and milk in small glass bottles like that delivered to your door. You would leave the empty bottles there for the driver to pick up and re-use. Gradually this system has become less and less common, to the point that I haven't seen it in use at all in the apartments where I've lived over the past 5 or 6 years, maybe longer. 

 

Even though I live in an older 小区, the kind of place where no residential building can be more than 6 stories tall, there's currently no sign of them. I'll ask some of the old ladies at tai-chi 太极 practice next time I go. They know everything!  

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Bibu

@abcdefg 老酸奶 is a bit trendy now, a French mother told me that his son, 3-4 years old ,love 老酸奶 so much when they was in Shanghai months ago.

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