This refreshing cold cucumber soup is perfect for the hot summer months. The cool, mellow flavor of cucumbers pairs wonderfully with the tanginess of Greek yogurt and bold flavors of fresh herbs. This cucumber soup is vegan (dairy-free), grain-free, soy-free, and nut-free.
Summer isn't exactly a peak soup season. Fortunately, there is the simple brilliance of a no-cook soup.
The appeal of cold soups in summer applies not only to the pleasure of dining on them but also to the preparation. Most cold soups are sheer simplicity, usually involving combinations of fresh vegetables and herbs that are so abundant in the summer. They also require very minimal cooking, sometimes no cooking at all.
However, unlike hot soups, cold soups rely on a lot of bold flavors and a generous seasoning. This is because maximum human taste sensitivity lies in the range of 72°F to 105°F/22°C to 40°C. In other words, the colder the soup, the less flavorful it will seem.
According to the latest research, human taste buds contain microscopic channels, termed TRPM5, which are responsible for different taste perception at different temperatures. The reaction of TRPM5 in human taste buds is much more intense when the temperature of food is high, sending a stronger electrical signal to the brain and resulting in an enhanced taste. This applies to all savory, sour, sweet, and umami flavors. The only exception is bitterness, which appears to be more powerful when something is cold.
So, when making this savory-tangy cold cucumber soup, over-seasoning is the rule.
Tips for Making Cold Cucumber Soup
A chilled cucumber soup is one of the quiet rewards of midsummer. You can find different versions of cucumber soup all around the world, but it's particularly popular in Persian communities where yogurt is a major dietary staple. Some regions make a sweet version of this soup, including aromatic elements like raisins and rose petals, but I am partial to the savory preparation I am sharing here today.
Here is a list of all the ingredients you will need to make this recipe:
- Cucumbers: when choosing cucumbers, avoid the waxed variety sold in grocery stores year-round. Instead, seek out the long, thin-skinned English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers. They have a superior, slightly sweet flavor, less water and far fewer seeds than other varieties. Because cucumber are so high in water, there is no need to add any extra water before blending the soup.
- Greek-style coconut yogurt: yogurt makes this soup thick and creamy. If you can't find plant-based Greek yogurt, strain regular yogurt to a Greek yogurt consistency (see instructions below).
- Fresh dill & parsley: fresh herbs are the main flavor makers. I like the simple combination of dill and flat-leaf parsley, but you can also experiment with tarragon, chives, mint, or basil.
- Shallot and garlic: raw aromatics are quite pungent, so make sure you don’t use more than the recipe calls for to let the other flavors shine through.
- Lemon juice: lemon juice brightens up the soup and makes its flavors distinct. The key to brightening a dish is to add the lemon juice or other acid slowly. Start off with just a few teaspoons, taste, and then add more as needed.There’s always a balancing point in the dish where the flavors suddenly pop out, but the dish can become too acidic if you go much beyond that.
- Salt: when seasoning the soup, don't forget to give it that extra pinch of salt. The colder the soup, the less flavorful it will seem.
How to Make Cucumber Soup
- Strain the yogurt. If you're starting with regular yogurt, strain it to a Greek yogurt consistency. To do that, set a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth over a bowl and spoon the yogurt into the sieve. Refrigerate the yogurt and allow the liquid to drain off for two hours. One cup of regular yogurt yields about ½ cup of thick, Greek-style yogurt.
- Blend. Even though there are some versions of cucumber soup in which you can discern its tiny elements, from finely chopped cucumbers to minced herbs, I prefer a perfectly smooth soup. If you don't have a high-speed blender, you might need to strain the soup through a fine sieve to get a smooth texture.
- Chill. Give the soup plenty of time to chill in the refrigerator (at least 6-8 hours), so the flavors meld.
- Re-season. Taste and season the soup after it’s chilled. You will be surprised how much the flavors become muted after a rest in the fridge. A last-minute sprinkling of fresh dill, chives, or parsley can turn any cold soup into something special.
How to Serve Cucumber Soup
Before you ladle the soup into serving bowls, make sure to chill the bowls first. You want the soup to stay cold for as long as possible.
The topping options for this soup are endless. I usually stick with just a few springs of fresh dill an an extra drizzle of olive oil. However, I have had cucumber soup served with diced avocado, finely chopped cucumbers, and even croutons. If you wanted to turn this soup into more of a complete meal, making it more filling, you could serve it with some good crusty bread or crostini alongside it.
More Cold Soup Recipes
Cucumber soup isn’t the only soup that benefits from being chilled. One of my favorite summer soups is tomato-based gazpacho. Just like this cucumber soup, gazpacho is packed with fresh garden flavors, requires no cooking, and takes only a few minutes to prepare. Both cucumber soup and gazpacho make a wonderful first course or a pretty appetizer.
Tools You'll Need
1. Blender (Vitamix 750) | 2. Knives Set (Set of 5, Utopia Kitchen, Stainless Steel) | 3. Cutting Board (24″x 18″, Michigan Maple Block, Maple) | 4. Measuring Cup (2 Cups, Anchor Hocking, Glass) | 5. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Bellemain, Stainless Steel) | 6. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel)
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- 2 English cucumbers , halved and seeded
- 1 ½ cups Greek-style coconut yogurt *
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 shallot , chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- ⅓ cup dill , loosely packed
- ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley , loosely packed
- ¼ cup olive oil
- salt , to taste
- Blend. Add the cucumbers, coconut yogurt, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, dill, parsley, olive oil, and salt into a high-speed blender and blend until completely smooth.
- Season. Taste and adjust the flavor as needed, adding more salt for saltiness, lemon juice for acidity, garlic for pungency, and dill for a grassy flavor.
- Chill. Cover the soup and refrigerate until cold, at least 6-8 hours.
- Serve, Taste the soup once again right before serving (chilling the soup will mute the flavor), and season as necessary. Divide the soup into chilled serving bowls Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and flaky salt, and serve immediately.
- Store. Leftover cucumber soup keeps well covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
**Nutrition information is approximate and may contain errors. Please, feel free to make your own calculations. This recipe has been adapted from Andrew Zimmern.
Will there be a YouTube video on this recipe? 🙂
Yes! 🙂 I am just editing it, so it will be up within the next few days (together with 2 more raw soups).