Thursday, 26 June 2014

Cold Soup for Hot Days!

Zuppa Fredda di Cetriolo, Arachidi Salate & Menta
Chilled Cucummber, Peanut & Mint Soup

Suddenly it became warm again this afternoon... And by the time I got home I was feeling very hot and rather bothered! Not in the mood to stand at a hot stove, I opened my fridge to see what I could turn into supper... and there at the bottom in the vegetable drawer was a cucumber that had escaped my eagle eye for almost a week it was just a tad wrinkled, but still firm and fine, and so not wanting to let it go to waste, I decided to improvise a good meal for a hot day out of it... And for your delectation, I served it up as three little appetizers... Because that would definitely be the very best way to serve this up!

I have never been a fan of cold soups, but I figured that if I managed to get enough good flavor into it, the cucumber would be a good transporter of freshness to maybe make it worth giving this cold soup idea another go... And by Jove, I did it!

The ingredients I used to make 4 starter-sized servings were, 1 large cucumber, 1shallot, 1small, mild pepper, about 1 teaspoon of Thai salted and fermented baby shrimp (!), around half of a small can of salted peanuts, a little cilantro, plenty of mint and the juice of 1 lime.

The strangest ingredient here is of course the baby shrimp paste, which not everyone will have in their cupboards I suppose! You can substitute them with either regular Thai fish sauce, soy sauce... Or even just plain salt... This was just a fun way, I thought, to add some depth of flavor and season at the same time... And as weird as it sounds, I do recommend it... the result was perfect!

The prep work here is so easy it is almost embarrassing! Simply chop everything up into pieces your blender, mixer, immersion mixer or whatever you have can handle! You can't get much easier than that!

I put all of the ingredients except for the shrimp paste into my mixer, added the juice of a lime and then gave it a jolly good whizz! The salt from the peanuts will already go a long way towards seasoning the soup... But you need to remember that those shrimp are yet to come! Which is why I did not add any salt at all...

...not until I had tasted it that is!
I added the shrimp, which are not only salted, but also fermented and appropriately potent, just a half teaspoon at a time... Just less than a full teaspoon was PLENTY for this amount of soup!

The great thing about having the peanuts in the soup is that they a.) simply taste great! And b.) absorb excess moisture from the cucumber so that the soup has a little body and does not just come out like cold water!

Once the soup was blended and seasoned nicely, I served it up, along with a nice drizzle of Sriracha sauce and a little heap of chopped peanuts on top.

I garnished the soup with mint and cilantro leaves... And a good time was had by all! Well, it was by ME anyway! Because as you have probably guessed, I ate it all by myself as usual!

The result of this is a satisfying and refreshingly nuanced dish, made from relatively few ingredients and in very, very little time indeed! Which of course can only be considered a really good thing at that!

So packed with great summer flavors... Mmmm! I hope you all enjoy it!

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