Lesley Stoyan: A Bowl of Cherries


Chilled Cucumber Soup Recipe

with Fresh Dill and Chives

It was so hot today in the city that the sidewalks shimmered. And that made us think of Alice in Wonderland. Which brought to mind one of the odd poems in that oddest of books. “Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!” the Mock Turtle croons to Alice,” before they hurry off to the court of the Queen of Hearts.

Beautiful soup make us think of vichyssoise.

A chilled bowl of leek and potato soup. Sumptuous with cold cream. Sprinkled lavishly with chopped parsley and chives.

Something about this just sounds cooling, and elegant.

Elegant as in old-world, formal, hotel elegance. Lavishly wasteful air-conditioning. A proper table set with a thick cloth napkin and precise cutlery. A water goblet clinking with ice cubes. The antithesis of a sticky picnic.

Vichyssoise is French in origin, but is widely credited as the invention of a chef at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in New York City in 1917. Hotels of that era bring to mind “The Great Gatsby,” and that novel’s critical scene, which unfolds in a suite at The Plaza, on the hottest of summer days, over buckets of ice and bottles of whiskey and hurled accusations aplenty.

Gatsby is many things. Including elegant.

Below is a, yes, beautiful soup, cooled with Greek yogurt and made elegant with chives and mint.

Chilled Cucumber Soup Recipe


2 large English cucumbers, halved, seeded, and coarsely chopped (reserve a handful for topping)
1 ½ cups plain Greek yoghurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
1 small shallot, chopped 
1 garlic clove 
1/3 cup fresh dill 
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt, black pepper
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 ripe tomato, finely chopped
½ cup chives, finely chopped
Mint sprigs (optional)
Hot sauce (optional)

 In a blender or food processor, combine the chopped cucumber with the yoghurt, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, dill, and 1/4 cup olive oil.

 Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate until cold (4-6 hours). For best flavour, let sit overnight.

 Re-season the soup before serving and top with diced cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, chives and mint sprig. Drizzle with hot sauce if desired.

Even better if proceeded by an ice-cold vodka tonic, with extra limes….

Makes 4 bowls or 8 tea cups