I actually made this soup in tandem with Padma Lakshmi’s first course: the mushroom and goat cheese flautas. But, as you’ll soon understand, this one took a lot more inventiveness. (Editor’s Note: This was all before we heard about Vi’s potato-and-cream fueled cucumber soup, which, for the record, makes Ms. Lakshmi’s recipe look like a little girl’s soup). So Padma’s soup is pretty simple: English cucumber, yogurt, mint and sea salt, all blended together and chilled. I’m not sure why I was so taken with it. I guess she just drew me in with lines like “It tastes of the cool, grassy notes of summer.” Who knew she was a poet too?
So I whipped this all up, chilled it a little bit, and…I mean, it was fine. It did kind of taste like the cool, grassy notes of summer, but it was also kind of bland and unexciting, like the second week of June, and you’re still in school. But of course I took some liberties and managed to spice it up a bit….
As you may have guessed, I wasn’t just making the soup and flautas, I was of course making a sauce to dip the flautas in as well. I decided to skip PL’s advice on this one and instead tried to make something up myself, mostly based on the fact that I had some lovely fresh tomatillos. So I chopped these up and blended them with some jalapeno, garlic, salt, pepper, and extra virgin, just to have a simple salsa for the side or to drizzle on top. But as I had both the soup and salsa sitting there, that’s when inspiration hit: I threw them both together and blended it all up into one. Voila. Two mediocre dishes = one very exciting meal. The tomatillo flava and the little spicy kick was just what Padma’s cucumber soup needed, if I do say so myself. Totally turned that bland June afternoon into a spicy, sweaty, middle-of-August evening.
So if ya’ll need a summary
- Peel and chop one English cucumber and place it in a blender or food processor with:
- I cup of yogurt (Padma says nonfat, I say fage, no doubt)
- 1/2 cup of freshly chopped mint
- 3chopped tomatillos
- 1 Jalapeno – seeded, if you can’t stand the heat
- A drizzle of extra virgin
- S and P
- Blend until smooth and chill for an hour.
Grade – Just Padma’s Recipe: One Padma out of a possible five (sorry, it just wasn’t that exciting)
Grade – The Lakshmi/Spiegel Version: Four Padmas