Summer 2012 officially kicked off this week, and we're celebrating with this light, flavorful feast. The cucumber soup, created on the KCET show Jazzy Vegetarian, uses tofu in place of cream, giving it a lighter profile that's great on a warm day -- and yes, it is a chilled soup! We like to pair it with Joanne Weir's grilled bread with tomatoes and olive oil, a very simple recipe that can be dressed up with any topping you desire. We recommend olives and Spanish cheese and serrano ham. But feel free to improvise!
12 ounces soft regular or silken tofu, drained and cubed
1⁄2 sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried dill weed, or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
Freshly ground pepper
Cut 4 thin slices of cucumber and set aside for the garnish. Peel, seed, and chop the remaining cucumbers.
Put the chopped cucumbers, tofu, onion, lemon juice, garlic, brown sugar and 1⁄4 teaspoon of the dill weed in a blender and process until creamy. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining dill weed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.
About 30 minutes before serving, chill four soup bowls. To serve, ladle the soup into the chilled bowls. Garnish each bowl with a cucumber slice topped with a sprinkling of dill weed. Serve immediately.
Grilled Bread with Tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
Coarse salt, to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 slices coarse country bread, each about 3/4 inch thick
3 very ripe tomatoes, halved crosswise
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the optional garnishes:
1/2 cup green or black brine-cured olives, pitted and slivered
6 paper-thin slices serrano ham
12 paper-thin slices manchego cheese
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill.
In a mortar, combine the garlic and salt. Mash together with a pestle to form a paste. Mix in the olive oil.
Place the bread slices on the grill rack 4 to 5 inches from the fire and grill, turning once, until golden brown, 30 to 60 seconds per side. Transfer the bread slices to a platter.
Cupping a tomato half in your palm, rub it over the top sides of 2 pieces of toast, squeezing slightly to leave a smear of pulp, seeds and juice on the surface. Repeat with the remaining tomato halves and bread. Drizzle the olive oil-garlic mixture evenly over the bread slices and sprinkle with pepper. Serve immediately with the garnishes arranged on top, if desired.