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Chilled cucumber soup offers cool comfort on a hot day

Simply Food

July 31, 2012
By Wendy Monro , The Journal

We have had an amazing summer in Las Vegas. Believe it or not, it hasn't been very hot. The heat has been tolerable. That's saying something for Vegas.

This is especially good for my friend, Shelly. She has a blood disorder, which makes her hot all of the time. Shelly has to wear freezing cold capes draped around her shoulders to keep her chilled. Her skin is bright red and hot to the touch. So, when it is over one hundred degrees outside, it's nicer for her to stay in. She would do much better living in a cold climate; but, Shelly wants to live near her mother here in the desert.

This week was especially difficult for Shelly and her mother. Her mom injured her shoulder and needed to go into the hospital for treatment. Then, on the same day, Shelly pulled a muscle in her back and could barely get out of bed. Earlier in the week, their dog had surgery on his paw. Their cat is still at the vet being fed intravenously because she hasn't been eating at home. The fish in their pond have parasites and all of the lilies had to be removed to treat the fish. Talk about a bad week!

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Chilled cucumber soup is refreshing on a hot day.

I asked if there was anything I could do to help. They already had people there helping at the house. Shelly's mom had a ride to the hospital. What they didn't have was dinner for the evening. I figured I could handle that assignment.

I wanted to make something light and chilled for Shelly. It's probably not comfortable for her to put too many hot meals into her body. I decided that it would be more soothing to make her something cold. My first thought was to make her a chilled cucumber soup or gazpacho.

I have often thought about making cucumber soup in the past. For some reason, I never got around to it. When it comes down to it, I usually prefer a hot soup to cold. However, this was the perfect opportunity to make a cold soup. I did a little research on these two types of cold soups and opted for the cucumber because the health benefits seemed especially suited for Shelly's condition.

Fact Box

Chilled Cucumber Soup

Time: 20 minutes (plus an hour to chill)

Serves: 4

4 cucumbers, chopped, divided

4 tomatoes, chopped, divided

1 yellow pepper, chopped

1 white onion, chopped

2 tablespoons vinegar

4 tablespoons fresh dill, divided

4 tablespoons fresh parsley, divided

2 cloves garlic, chopped, divided

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 pieces white bread

Place the cucumbers (reserve of one cucumber) and tomatoes (reserve 1 tomato) into a food processor. Dice the reserved cucumbers and tomatoes and place into a bowl. Set these aside. Blend the cucumbers and tomatoes in the food processor. Add the pepper, onions and vinegar to the food processor and blend. Add dill (reserving teaspoon) and parsley (reserving teaspoon). Blend. Add garlic (reserving clove) and sugar to food processor and blend. Empty the blended contents into a sieve and drain into a bowl. Use the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula to press all of the juices from the blended mixture into the bowl. Cover and set into the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour. Cut the bread into small squares to make croutons. In a saut pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the remaining garlic, parsley and dill. Add the bread squares. Brown the bread on both sides. When the soup is chilled, place into individual bowls. Divide the remaining diced cucumber and tomatoes and place into each bowl. Place the croutons on top of this. Serve with warm French bread.

Cucumbers are in the family of gourds along with melons and squashes. They increase hydration in the body and flush out toxins. I learned that cucumbers also regulate the body's inner temperature. Excellent! Furthermore, cucumbers are known to help control both high and low blood pressure. I figured, with all of these health benefits, chilled cucumber soup would be and ideal dinner to make for Shelly.

I wanted to include several more vegetables in the soup to make it hearty and flavorful. I added tomatoes, yellow peppers, onions, fresh herbs, and garlic. I wanted to use yellow tomatoes but couldn't find them at the market. So, I opted for red. I think the color would be more beautiful if I could have located yellow tomatoes. I'll try that next time.

I was surprised at how quick this soup was to prepare. It took around 20 minutes. Then, I placed it into the refrigerator to chill while I made croutons and heated up a baguette. When the kids and I were ready to bring everything over to Shelly's house, I grabbed the green curry with chicken that I made the night before. I figured, they could start with the cold soup and bread and then delve into the curry if they were still hungry.

They live about four houses away. I drove with Daphne because we had to carry so much over. Jack pogo sticked over behind the car. We entered the cold house (the temperature always has to remain low for Shelly's condition) with our loot. They both looked exhausted. I know my way around their kitchen, so I plated it all up for them and set them up for their meal.

We joked and laughed about their crazy week. Soon, we were all talking about other happier things. Before long, they weren't thinking about not feeling well. They smiled more and looked happier. The kids and I didn't stay long. I knew they needed their rest. I left knowing we did our tiny part to brighten their day.



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