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Cucumber and Gin Soup with Avocado and Tomato


I’ve been involved in a Book Club for most of my adult life. At first it was just about friends, and if we talked about the month’s designated book then it was a red letter day, but as the years progressed and locations changed, book club turned into a genuine intellectual challenge, the motivation to think analytically, questioningly and more deeply than everyday life, in general, demanded.  The friendship of my book club mates I counted as a first class bonus.

I’m not the sort of person who accepts things at face value. I don’t get sucked in by the razzle dazzle of advertising and commercial hype and I’m deeply cynical about politicians and the media. I expect an “expert” to be a voice of wisdom with a sound knowledge based on experience. This belief also influences the way I view recipe books.

I’m forthright in my opinions about recipes and cookbooks on this blog. I try to be constructive in my criticism but I also endeavour to right the wrongs I encounter and make dodgy recipes workable and enjoyable to eat. Sometimes I just scrap a test recipe out of hand, but that’s rare.

As a counterbalance I also believe in giving praise where I see it’s due and recent recipes I’ve tried from “Vegies” by Simon Bryant have made me sit up and look more closely. The recipes I’ve cooked from Byrant’s book have been simple to follow and the flavours robust, distinctive and delicious. “Vegies” has been on my bookshelf for close to three years, but for an unknown reason I’ve been slow to embrace it. Bryant, best known as the chef partner to Maggie Beer’s cook in the popular Australian TV series “The Cook and the Chef,” is a vegetarian. His early life at the stoves was spent in Indian and Thai restaurants before he worked his way through the kitchens of the Adelaide Hilton Hotel to work beside the legendary Cheong Liew, so the influences of SE Asia on his food are strong.

Some of the recipes in the book are “cheffy” and I count his chilled Cucumber Soup, flavoured with gin or Pimms and served with lemony avocado, luscious oily tomato and mint as from that list. But it’s not a laborious recipe with tricky equipment and hard to get ingredients, just pure carefully seasoned cucumber juice elegantly served with perfectly chosen complimentary flavours. I chose to season with Pimms rather than gin.

I made the recipe verbatim. The instruction were clear and concise with chatty asides and explanations. Each element of the dish could be prepared well ahead and I think it would be a light, elegant and cooling beginning to an Australian Christmas meal.

The recipe makes 1 litre of soup which would serve 6-8 as a light appetiser, or 4 people for lunch.

Cucumber and Gin Soup with Tomato and Avocado

2-3 large telegraph cucumbers total weight approx 1.2kg

30-40 mls gin or Pimms

sea salt and pepper

1 avocado at room temperature

zest of 1/4 lemon

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 large sweet ripe tomatoes at room temperature

sea salt

extra virgin olive oil

fresh mint

extra virgin olive oil for garnish

Blanch the whole cucumbers for 2 minutes in rapidly boiling salted water. If you don’t have a saucepan big enough for your cucumbers, cut them in half.

Refresh the cucumbers in iced water, then drain.

Use a citrus zester to take long julienne of skin off 1/2 cucumber to use as garnish. Set aside in the fridge.

Roughly chop the cucumbers then whizz them in a blender until super smooth.

Strain the cucumber puree through a muslin lined sieve, squeezing the pulp to extract every drop of liquid. You should have approximately 1 litre of cucumber “juice.”

Discard the solids and chill the juice.

Half an hour before serving, remove the cucumber juice from the fridge and add the gin or Pimms a little at a time until you taste a hint of fruitiness.

Season really well with salt to taste. Return the soup to the fridge.

Roughly mash the avocado flesh in a bowl, add the lemon juice and zest, then season with  little salt.

Cut the tomatoes into random sized wedges, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and drizzle over 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil.

Arrange the avocado and tomatoes into shallow serving bowls. Garnish with the ribbons of cucumber skin, and fresh mint leaves.

Ladle the soup into the bowls, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Serve immediately.

 

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

28 comments on “Cucumber and Gin Soup with Avocado and Tomato

  1. Gather and Graze
    December 14, 2015

    This sounds beautifully refreshing Sandra… and yes, a great starter to Christmas lunch or dinner! I think our friend the Martini Whisperer would approve of this one too. 🙂

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      December 14, 2015

      Indeed he would! I think it would be fab without the addition of alcohol too, perhaps with a mix of lemon and lime juices to give the fruitiness without adding sweetness. It was so good, it’s on the grown ups menu for Christmas eve.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Karen
    December 9, 2015

    So different and very special sounding. Now that we are living in Florida with its warm weather, this sounds like a perfect starter to enjoy real soon.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      December 9, 2015

      Yes Karen perfect for Florida which has a similar climate to Brisbane I believe

      Like

  3. Moya
    December 7, 2015

    The soup look fabulous, delicious and very “cheffy” Sandra and would be perfect for a Christmas menu. Using pimms sounds interesting. Beautiful photo too 🙂

    Like

  4. ChgoJohn
    December 7, 2015

    I’m not a fan of gin, Sandra, but this sounds so tasty that I’d be willing to give it a go. With your summer temperatures, I bet this would make a fantastic lunch on a day so hot that you’re loathe to even look at the stove, much less use it.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      December 8, 2015

      You’re so right John, perfect soup for hot steamy weather..

      Like

  5. chef mimi
    December 7, 2015

    how interesting!!! I’ve never thought to put gin or pimms or anything alcoholic in a soup! fascinating!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      December 7, 2015

      Very summery Mimi and seriously delicious. I thought using gin might have made the soup too alcoholic so chose Pimms, but Mal worked out the impact it would have had by volume, not much in the scheme of things. I’m planning to make it again for Christmas eve, will go the gin

      Like

  6. Saskia (1=2)
    December 6, 2015

    Great post Sandra, love your writing. Both the soup and your book club sound very nourishing. The soup does indeed look like the perfect Christmas appetiser, with those colours!
    PS. I bought this tote for one of my Book Club members recently 🙂
    http://www.winestave.com/talented-totes-my-book-club-only-reads-wine-labels-canvas-tote-bag/

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      December 6, 2015

      Hah, love the bag! The soup was really amazing, hard to believe how much flavour cucumber really has

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Eha
    December 4, 2015

    Found Bryant’s book in the on-line bookshops and what with the Christmas expenses decided to order next year! Well, this is such an intriguing recipe I cannot wait to make [with gin in my case : 🙂 ! ] that methinks ‘Vegies’ will be ‘another’ Xmas gift to self 🙂 !! Meanwhile this is so simple but truly different . . .

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      December 4, 2015

      The soup was delicious Eha luscious clean fresh flavours, perfect for a hot summer day

      Like

  8. Conor Bofin
    December 4, 2015

    Any recipe with gin has to be worth trying. Lovely picture.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      December 4, 2015

      Thanks and Yes a drop of Hendrick’s would be perfect although the Pimm’s was good

      Liked by 1 person

  9. lulu
    December 4, 2015

    This is a very intriguing combo to say the least.

    Like

  10. Francesca
    December 4, 2015

    Such an elegant dish, Sandra! Seriously, beautiful!

    Like

  11. Leah
    December 3, 2015

    Sounds very sophisticated and delicious! Maybe it should be on our Christmas Eve menu 🙂

    Like

  12. tarynnicole
    December 3, 2015

    What a fabulous combination of ingredients. And you have made it look beautiful too! xx

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      December 3, 2015

      Thanks Tarryn, it’s a very impressive dish, easy to make too

      Like

  13. Gretchen
    December 3, 2015

    Looks so beautiful and delicious. The addition of Pimms or gin sounds nice. Definitely a wonderful soup for the summer months, I’ll have to pin this or I’ll forget all about it!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      December 3, 2015

      Yes, tuck the recipe away safely for summer Gretchen, it’s worth it…

      Like

  14. Lisa @ cheergerm
    December 3, 2015

    Perfect for your warmer life, summer in a bowl. I really appreciate your frank and constructive point of view. I haven’t got his book but I used to enjoy watching him and Madame Beer.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      December 3, 2015

      This recipe blew me away with it’s simplicity and delicious robust flavour. I could drink a big mug full of the soup unadorned, essence of cucumber….

      Liked by 1 person

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