The perfect … Cucumber soup

When it’s so hot that trainers stick to the tarmac, even I tend to lose my appetite for anything apart from cold liquids. And there’s nothing more refreshing than cucumber, a vegetable that’s 96% water and 100% delicious, green coolness. Many cultures have a cucumber soup recipe in their repertoire; here’s mine.

Cut two of the cucumbers in half lengthways, scoop out and discard the seeds, then roughly chop the flesh

The cucumber

Unless you happen to be dealing with older, thick-skinned varieties, there’s no need to peel cucumbers – or indeed “degorge” them with salt before use. If you’re not sure about one you have grown yourself or picked up from the farm shop or market, just taste it; if the skin unpalatably bitter, peel and deseed it, cut it into chunks, toss with a little salt and leave in a colander for 30 or so minutes before use.

Chef Tom Kerridge lightly sautes the cucumber in the recipe in his book Best Ever Dishes, which makes it a halfway house between the completely raw versions of Simon Hopkinson, Anthony Demetre and others, and the cooked soups featured in Margaret Costa’s Four Seasons Cookery Book and Clarissa Dickson Wright’s Comfort Food, which seem to link back to the hot cucumber soups of Eliza Acton and her Victorian brethren. Although I can’t detect any real difference in taste, save for the fact that the cucumbers take on the flavour of the oil or butter they’ve been cooked in, and that the softened cucumbers are certainly easier to puree, I’m loth to recommend turning on the stove unnecessarily in high summer, not least because it means the soup will take longer to chill afterwards.

The liquid

Watery as cucumbers are, you’ll need to add more liquid to turn them into soup. Yoghurt, either in combination with soured cream or creme fraiche, or water, is popular, though milk, chicken stock and cream are also possibilities; Hopkinson’s deliciously savoury take in Second Helpings of Roast

Peel the garlic and destem the chilli, then roughly chop both and put in a blender with the chopped cucumber

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