Cold Cucumber and Okra Soup
Many people equate okra with gumbo, the Cajun-or Creole-style stew that relies on the flavor and the thickening powers of the sticky green pods. I love spicy, velvety-smooth gumbo, but not during the heat of summer. I prefer a lighter soup for summer dining. This dish, which is inspired by traditional cold cucumber soup, is refreshing and slightly tangy, and although the added silkiness that comes from the pureed okra is noticeable, it’s not overwhelming. If you’re trying to up the nutritional value of your regular meals, this soup is worth trying at least once just for the health benefits of the raw ingredients. Okra is a major player among the super foods — it’s rich in fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin A, folic acid, calcium, potassium and magnesium. 1 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped; remove seeds if they’re tough or bitter 1⁄2 cup of tender young okra, stems removed, sliced 1/4 cup sweet yellow pepper, chopped clove garlic, chopped 1⁄2 cup whole milk 8-10 fresh sweet basil leaves (or dill fronds) 1⁄2 Tbsp. fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 1⁄4 cup plain yogurt 1⁄4 cup crème fraîche (or sour cream or buttermilk) 1⁄2 cup water 1⁄2 cup dry white wine (optional) 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste Chopped chives or salad tomatoes for garnish
Place first five ingredients in a food processor and purée until smooth. Add basil and parsley and pulse briefly until herbs are in tiny pieces. Pour mixture into a mixing bowl and stir in remaining ingredients. Whisk well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill before serving with garnish of chopped tomatoes or chives. Makes 5-6 servings.
In summer, your thoughts don’t turn as lightly to hot, hearty gumbo – so instead, try this chilled cucumber and okra soup, garnished with chopped ‘Sungold’ tomatoes.