Here is a great summer first course that I served recently.  What to do with cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden, well that was my dilemma?  Cucumber soup I thought was a great choice paired with heirloom tomato salad.  I thought of gazpacho or yogurt- cucumber soup, but I wanted to make something a little different.  I have never cooked a cucumber soup before, I have always just juiced or pureed the cucumbers with other ingredients.  For the tomatoes, I really didn't want to do much to them because they are just so delicious on there own with olive oil, salt, and pepper.   The cucumber soup I finished with tarragon, pine nuts, and purslane.  For the tomatoes I finished with basil and manchego cheese.

Cucumber soup

3 cucumbers sliced

3 garlic cloves sliced

3 shallots sliced

5 sprigs of fresh tarragon

1 lemon juiced

1/4 cup of pine nuts roasted

1/2 cup of purslane leaves

5 tbsp of olive oil

2 tbsp of cornstarch

2 tbsp of water

1/2 cup of milk

8 cups of water

Salt and pepper

Tomato salad

2 brandy wine tomatoes quartered

1 large yellow sunburst tomato cut in half sliced

1 cup of yellow tear drop tomatoes blanched and peeled

2 roma tomatoes sliced

3 basil leaves chiffonade

5 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

2 oz manchego cheese sliced thin

Salt and pepper

In a medium soup pot add 3 tbsp of olive oil with cucumbers, shallots, garlic and 1 tbsp of salt.  Let the vegetables cook for 7 minutes without browning and then add the water.  Bring the water to a boil and turn down to a simmer.   Cook for 20 minutes and thicken slightly with the cornstarch slurry.  Cook for another 5 minutes and then turn off.  In batches add fresh tarragon to a blender along with the soup and puree until smooth.  Continue until all the soup is pureed.  Add the milk and season the soup while it is still hot with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  Once the soup is seasoned to your liking, cool down in a ice bath and place in the refrigerator at least 2 hours or until ready to serve.  

For the tomatoes simply season all the tomatoes on both sides with salt and pepper at least 30 minutes before your ready to serve.  This will draw out the water of the tomato and the flavor will be more intense. 

To plate, ladle soup into a cup and garnish with purslane, pine nuts, black pepper, and the remaining olive oil.  For the tomatoes alternate slices and tomatoes in a line.  Finish with fresh basil, manchego cheese, and extra virgin olive oil. 

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