My father loved soup. He would eat virtually any soup, from a consommé (hot or cold) to a Scotch Broth. As a child, I hated soup and every winter, my mother made it by the gallon; it was always a vegetable soup with one or other bone flung in. Occasionally (very occasionally), and when they were in supreme abundance in the garden, she’d make an artichoke soup. Memories of Saturday mornings are of the peel and chop, chop, chop of vegetables for the soup; and the smell of malt, sugar and water bubbling on the stove. Dad (with Mum’s help for the first step), made his own beer – for years. I remain convinced that at least one boyfriend from my youth was more interested in the beer than in me. That was a long, long time ago….
Somewhere along the line, I think I’ve grown up, and although I still steer clear of the ubiquitous vegetable version, I make soup regularly: summer and winter. I also sell seasonal soups at our local market and was interested to be referred to as “The Soup Lady” by a recent immigrant to McGregor. Who would have thought?
Cold soups seem to be foreign to many. I remember, on a hot summer’s evening, seeing fresh tomato soup on the menu, and asking whether it was chilled. The waiter’s response suggested that that I had descended from another universe! My first introduction to a chilled soup was when I worked in the mining industry and there was some lunch or other towards the end of the year. Some of you will remember Leipold’s in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, which tells you how long ago this was…. The soup on offer that day was avocado. It was delicious. And as you can tell, I’ve never forgotten it. I’ve also never tried to make it, so avocado soup is on my list of “to dos” at some point.
That said, one of our favourite summer soups is cucumber. Over the years, I’ve adapted the recipe which comes from Isabel Allende’s Aphrodite – the love of food & the food of love – a wedding present.
In addition to being a really good read about love, life, heartbreak, healing and new love, it does have some fabulous recipes.
I have had to learn new words for certain ingredients, and which are not used here: garbanzos and cilantro, to name just two, and because some ingredients are not easily available, I’ve had to adapt. Because I don’t always have cilantro (aka coriander, and in South Africa, dhanya), let alone dill which is unbelievably difficult to grow, I substitute with tarragon and fennel.
This is a no-cook soup (other than the vegetable stock which you could make, or cheat and use commercial stock). I make large quantities – it does keep well in the fridge. You can see the other substitutions below (some indicate the level of desperation (or disorganisation) that has prevailed at times…)
As I write, at 15h30 pm it’s 36ºCelsius (97ºF), a bit cooler than yesterday at 39ºC/101ºF, so I’m definitely not as cool as a cucumber!
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