Summer soups like cucumber, gazpacho, split pea and strawberry are refreshing and simple to whip together. For those of you who prefer your soups to be warm like my husband, here is creamy soup with heart healthy cucumbers, dill, onions and garlic. It pairs beautifully with a warm German potato salad.
It seems many European chefs focus on the nutritional aspect of food as well as the flavor. Chef David Sweeney grew up in Germany and believes food can make us glow from the inside out. He gave recommendations for using the vitamin C rich cucumber skin and seeds as a face pack with yogurt, honey and oatmeal. Maybe this is why he looks so young and vibrant.
He discussed the importance of organic especially with heavily sprayed foods like peanuts. Ever wonder why peanut allergies are so prevalent? Well, if may be due to the genetic modifications and pesticides. David’s uncle owns a peanut farm and spent 1.3 million on pesticides last year which are sprayed into the soil and create a peanut with higher fat content which when roasted provides the desired crunch companies like M&M require for their peanut candies. I need to ask him if those peanuts are allowed in Europe since their candies have different dyes than ones allowed here in the US.
This cucumber and dill soup will help you balance out your occasional indulgence in peanut candies. Cucumbers contain a lot of water and fiber perfect for weight loss. They are also packed with vitamin K, C, molybdenum, and manganese as well as numerous flavonoid antioxidants, including quercetin, apigenin, luteolin, and kaempferol. In addition, there is promising research for anti-cancer benefits. The dill, onions and garlic thin the blood making it ideal to pair with the bacon in the potato salad.
When cooking the onions and garlic, you want to sauté and then cover to make them sweat. Do not brown them. This softens the onions and brings out the sweetness. Resist the impulse to add salt to the onions and cucumbers or the soup will be watery. Instead season at the end when you are adding the lemon juice.
David recommends using Himalayan Pink salt for seasoning food since it contains 84 minerals. He only uses kosher salt to soak his vegetables and citrus to remove any chemicals or waxes. Even organic foods may be sprayed but they are much healthy chemicals.
Here Are Some Cooking Tips
- Remove the dill fronds from the stems. Stems can be bitter. Use stems as a garnish.
- Do not use heartier herbs like bay leaves in the stock of this soup.
- Add Bouillon to thicken and add flavor to the vegetable broth.
- When boiling potatoes, always boil whole with the skin on. The nutrients will be left behind in the water if they are not boiled whole.
- Do not cook your potatoes in foil. The aluminum can leach into the food and it is the perfect environment for botulism if you let them cool inside the foil. There have been cases of people getting sick and needing hospitalization.
- Potatoes texture changes when refrigerated. If you are not an expert on food safety and how to properly cool down food, it is best to refrigerate.
Cucumber Soup with Dill
1. Heat butter in sauce pan on medium heat. Peel and dice cucumbers. Use a paring knife to remove the seeds before dicing. Peel garlic cloves and slice the onions.
2. Heat butter in sauce pan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sweat until translucent – do not brown.
3. Add cucumber and continue to sweat – cover for about 5-8 minutes stirring and mixing once every minute.
4. Add vegetable stock and simmer until all vegetables are soft.
5. Puree with an emulsion blender.
6. Add mascarpone and lemon juice and whisk.
7. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Whisk in dill just before serving.
(For a thicker soup you can add a few tsp of rice flour or a cooked potato)
German Potato Salad with Cucumber & Bacon
1. Boil potatoes for 25-40 minutes on low boil until they are tender in the middle.
2. Drain and immediately peel while they are warm. Use a towel or potato skewer to protect your hands.
3. Thinly slice the potatoes (on a mandolin or grater) into a bowl.
4. Add the onions.
5. Heat bacon fat & oil on a low temp and then whisk in vinegar and pour over potatoes.
6. Add cucumbers, salt, pepper & freshly grated nutmeg and fold ingredients together well with a spatula.
7. Fold in bacon.
8. Sprinkle with chive before serving. You may also add some thinly sliced radishes. Enjoy!
If you live in Atlanta, come join the lively crowd at the Morningside Market. You never know what you will see!
Recipes provided by David Sweeney. Keep an eye out for him; he is a fabulous chef with amazing ideas.
Pictures provided by T.C. Brodnax