Hot Cucumber Soup with Deep-Fried Parsley

I subscribe to a frenzy of food blogs and newsletters. At times I have to dig out my inbox beneath the press of recipes for martinis, vegan chocolate cupcakes, and hamburger sliders. But every now and then the statistical odds tilt in my favor, and just the right recipe will land on my plate. Earlier this week exactly that happened.

Lemon cucumbers-- and a lemon

Our garden has been producing a delightful vegetable called a lemon cucumber. Can you spot which is the citrus and which are the lookalikes?

As gardening neophytes, we puzzled over when to pick these Cucurbitaceae orbs. It turns out it’s best to snatch them up when the skin is still faintly yellow-green. After that the cukes grow tough spikes and thicker skin, the seeds get larger, and the flesh is less refreshing—though it does taste distinctly more lemony. Or perhaps that’s just the power of suggestion. (For years I thought Blue Moon beer had a hint of blueberries…)

Lemon cucumbers

As a result of this trial and error, by Tuesday I had a windowsill of overripe lemon cucumbers destined for the compost bin, until this recipe swooped in to save the day.

I won’t oversell it: This soup won’t change your life. But if you’re looking for an interesting riff on a summertime classic—or if, like me, you need to dispatch a couple cucumbers, stat—then give it a whirl. English, Persian, Asian, burpless, lemon—really, any cucumber will do.

Be sure to include the parsley fritters; they’re what give the soup some flair. The leaves spit like crazy in the oil, so use a deep pot for this step, and be speedy. They burn fast. Also, if you don’t have a hand blender, no worries. Blend the soup in small batches in a food processor or regular blender instead.

chopped onion, celery, and potato in stock

Hot Cucumber Soup with Deep-Fried Parsley

Recipe courtesy of Yvette van Boven, by way of Tasting Table

Yield: 1½ quarts

6 cups vegetable broth

2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 medium white onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 celery ribs, cleaned and coarsely chopped

1 fresh or dried bay leaf

2 fresh thyme sprigs

2 medium cucumbers, coarsely chopped

½ cup heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cup whole milk

Leaves from 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley

Vegetable oil

In a large stockpot set over medium heat, combine the vegetable broth, potatoes, onion, celery, bay leaf, and thyme sprigs. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs and add the cucumbers. Simmer for 5 minutes more. Turn off the heat and use a hand blender to purée the soup until smooth. Stir in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow the soup to cool completely, at least 45 minutes, or transfer to a covered container and refrigerate overnight.

In a medium saucepot set over high heat, heat the oil to 350°. Carefully add the parsley and fry for a few seconds; the parsley should still be bright green. Remove the parsley from the hot oil with a fine-mesh strainer and drain on paper towels.

Return the soup to the stockpot and heat over medium heat until almost boiling. Stir in the milk and remove from the heat. Use a hand blender to briefly whip the soup. Pour the soup into bowls, garnish with parsley and serve immediately.