Friday, May 30, 2014

Cool Cucumber Soup Ideal for Summer

Have you ever had a cool or cold soup? When summer heat starts wearing you down, a cool soup is a wonderful addition to a meal. Many cool soups are RAW foods, just by their very nature. This is another great thing, because a raw soup offers more nutrition than one that has been cooked. Having all the ingredients in their raw state maintains the vital nutrients and enzymes. 

When I was living a RAW lifestyle a few years back, soups were a particular favorite of mine. Generally, I eat soup now and again, mostly thick and hearty types. I am not one to order a soup or have a soup at any meal unless it is one of these thick and chunky sorts, comprising a meal all by itself. But while eating only RAW foods, somehow soups were so easy to make and so flavorful that I ate them daily. And these soups were mainly blended completely smooth, by choice. Any soup that is thrown together in a blender can have some additional ingredients tossed in for texture, but I really liked the smooth soups. I made tomato soup most often, as I had a lot of basil growing and tomatoes and basil are kind of like soup and sandwich - they just go together. 

Creamy RAW Tomato Basil Soup

Creamy RAW Tomato Basil Soup
My Creamy RAW Tomato Basil Soup

Makes 2 servings

1 large ripe tomato, cored and cut in large chunks
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes
2 TB smoked sun dried tomatoes, or just use 6 tablespoons regular sun dried tomatoes
2 TB olive oil
½ cup basil leaves
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped off and stems thrown out
1 large garlic clove, minced and soaked 5 – 10 minutes in apple cider vinegar, then drained
1 piece fresh ginger, walnut sized, peeled and sliced across the grain
½ Serrano chilie pepper, seeds removed
2 small pitted dates
1 lime, juiced, or at least 2 TB of juice or more, to taste
½ tsp salt
½ tsp peppercorns
1 to 1 ½ cups almond milk (water can be used, but the almond milk imparts a creaminess)

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until completely liquified. If your blender does not have the power to finely liquefy things like whole peppercorns, pre-grind those first.

I didn't stop at tomato soups though, and made mixed veggie soups, squash soups and many others. I cannot quite remember if I actually made a soup of mainly green things. I probably did, but was not keeping a record, nor taking photos of every food I ate back then. 

Creamy RAW Vegetable Soup
My Creamy RAW Vegetable Soup

Creamy RAW Vegetable Soup

Makes 2 bowls

1 cup cherry tomatoes
½ red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, in chunks
¾ cup celery with leaves, cut in chunks
½ small onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup white vinegar, optional
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup raw cashews
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dill weed (¼ cup if fresh)
1 cup water, or more, if needed
1 avocado, cut into dice, for serving

Place all ingredients except the avocado into a blender container (Vita Mix preferred). Blend until completely smooth. Serve in bowls with the avocado scooped on top. Without the avocado the soup will keep for 1 day in the fridge.

Yesterday I had to have a tooth pulled, so I figured it would be smarter to have soft things to eat for a little bit, until the gum heals. A nice RAW soup for lunch seemed logical. No chewing, and no accidental hurts. I took stock of what I had in the fridge, and then walked to the grocery store two blocks away for a few other things while my bread was rising. I wanted to make a green soup, so I got a "burpless" cucumber. I avoid cucumbers generally, because I tend to burp them, and while I still may with the "burpless" variety, it is not nearly the problem I have with the regular smooth-skinned cucumbers. The burpless are also called European or sometimes just hothouse cucumbers. Whatever they are called, they have less bitterness and less seeds. The skin is very thin. 

"Burpless" Cucumber
My plan was a green soup, so I went for mainly green veggies; cucumber, avocado, cilantro, kale. I used a whole apple for sweetness, along with a jalapeno for a nice little bite. When making these creamy smooth soups, it is helpful to have a really good blender. I have a Vita Mix, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. It is really powerful and will liquify just about anything. I have had my Vita Mix for about 7 years, so it's been quite a while since I used a normal blender. I can't say how well all these ingredients will puree in a regular blender. My goal is to have all the fiber but no strings or chunks. The Vita Mix delivers on that score. 

RAW Cool Cucumber Soup
RAW Cool Cucumber Soup
This recipe can be altered to suit your tastes. I added some kale because i had it in the fridge, but any other leafy green such as spinach, chard, arugula - or none at all - will work fine. I left skin on the cucumber, ginger and the apple. I did remove the seeds from the cucumber, though that is not strictly necessary with this kind. I added cilantro, but many people dislike cilantro, so this can be omitted, or substituted with parsley. Nuts can be added, preferably raw cashews or almonds if desired. Frozen green peas would also be good, and chill the soup even more while blending. All I can say is that the soup was just so very delicious. I ate it all, though I really should have left at least half for tomorrow. Oh well. If on a RAW lifestyle, it is easily 2 meals. If using it for a regular meal, or a nice brunch, along with other courses, 1 cup should be plenty per person.

RAW Cool Cucumber Soup

RAW Cool Cucumber Soup
RAW Cool Cucumber Soup

makes 5 cups

2 1/2 to 3 cups cubed cucumber
1/2 cup cilantro, leaves and stems
1 small Haas avocado, or 1/2 large
1/4 cup chopped scallion with some greens
1 jalapeno, seeds and membranes removed, optional
1 - 2 cups kale or other leafy green of choice
1 medium apple, core removed, in chunks
1 small clove garlic
1 (one-inch) cube fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dried dillweed
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water or coconut water

Place cucumber cubes in blender container with the cilantro, and all the rest of the ingredients and puree until smooth. It is wonderful just blended, or can be chilled further in the refrigerator before eating, as desired.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.