Whoever invented the phrase “cool as a cucumber” never partied with the St. Andrew’s Parish Bingo Committee. Hot Cucumber Soup is a straightforward weeknight recipe courtesy of a sixty-something parishioner. It’s a creamy vegetable soup thickened with white sauce and sour cream. The vegetable base includes the usual suspects, a mirepoix and some boiled potatoes, along with five boiled and mashed cucumbers. The recipe’s author has a Polish surname and a little bit of digging turns up a Polish maiden name as well: I suspect this soup is a variant of a Polish zupa ogórkowa, which is traditionally made with brine pickles.
Now I’ll be honest with you: hot pickle soup doesn’t make a whole lot more sense than hot cucumber soup, but neither is particularly horrifying. More like unexpected, and certainly worth a shot and turns out it’s not half bad. It’s not going to spark some hipster zupa trend, but it’s a tasty, satisfying vegetable soup that’s just a little bit different. The recipe as written doesn’t have a whole lot of salt which allows the subtle cucumber-ness to come through. It tastes like cucumbers in the same way cream of broccoli soup tastes like broccoli.
I’ve made a couple of adjustments in my adaptation, to improve both flavor and ease of preparation. The original recipe just kind of tosses all of the veggies together and boils the tar out of them. I’ve gone a little bit more traditional and sauteed the mirepoix to give the vegetable base a deeper, richer flavor. I also found it frustrating and painful to try and mash cooked cucumbers with a potato masher. I’ve opted instead to puree the vegetables, which improves the texture and eliminates unpleasant chunks of flaccid cucumber. And I’ve added a heavy hand of fresh dill to spruce up the flavor – cucumbers just seem naked without it.
Hot Cucumber Soup probably works best as a side soup or starter course, paired with something crunchy and cheesy. The last time I made this I smeared some cream cheese on a whole grain English muffin with a little bit of extra dill, but it also works well with a grilled ham and cheese sandwich or even a cheesy breadsticks. Vegetarians can easily substitute vegetable bouillon for beef bouillon, but the sour cream is probably irreplaceable (sorry vegans). Enjoy!
- Bring water to a boil in a large pot Slice cucumbers thinly and add to water, then add diced potatoes. Boil until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.
- In a separate saucepan or dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery and saute for 5-10 minutes until fragrant and vegetables are lightly browned. Add flour and stir to combine. Cook for a few more minutes, then add the mixture to the potatoes and cucumbers.
- Add bouillon and sour cream. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes until well combined and mixture starts to thicken. Puree with an immersion blender.
- Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with liberal amounts of fresh dill.