Icy Cucumber Soup or Smoothie

cuke avo soup 2

It’s fast. It’s fresh. It’s healthy. And, oh yeah, it tastes great, too. Not to mention, it’s pretty—a pale, cool, green.

It’s mid September but summery here in San Francisco (any temperature 70°F or above catches us by surprise; at 75°F we complain about the heat). The cucumber vine, however, does not complain and produces large (okay, very large) cucumbers regularly, perfect for cucumber soup. Naturally, I could not find the cucumber soup recipe published in The New York Times last summer but remembered the ingredients. The great thing about knowing how to cook is freeing yourself of recipes and instead listening to what your mind or tongue or tummy tells you to combine. “Ginger!” all the voices cried, probably because it’s so cooling and we are all in various stages of a nasty sinus cold. My voices also nixed garlic for some reason—maybe the sometimes hot flavor of raw garlic didn’t appeal. Your voices might scream for it and/or a pinch of cayenne, Aleppo pepper, or piment d’Espelette. Below you’ll find the proportions I used, but listen to your voices and combine, add, or subtract to suit yourself.

Serves about 6

Prep time: 10 minutes

Equipment: a blender or food processor


  • 1 large (about 9 ounces) cucumber, peeled
  • 1 ounce (about a 2-inch piece) fresh ginger, peeled, and sliced
  • 1 large (about 5.5 ounces), ripe avocado
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons) plus more as needed
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Small bunch mint
  • 1 cup cultured buttermilk plus more as needed


  1. Place the cucumber, ginger, avocado, orange juice, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste, and the leaves from 3 mint sprigs in the blender jar. Puree until smooth. Add the buttermilk and blend. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, perhaps more lime juice. Thin as needed with buttermilk and/or water.
  2. Pour the soup over ice in a tall glass, add a mint sprig, and enjoy it immediately for lunch. To turn the soup into a smoothie, add a tray of ice cubes to the blender and whirl until the mixture is evenly slushy. Or chill the soup for several hours, and then serve it in shot glasses garnished with mint sprigs as a fun appetizer or first course.

Quick Notes

Take a nibble of your cucumber skin. If it is tough or bitter, peel it off. Do the same with the seeds.

The variety avocado you use will make your soup more or less rich. For the richest flavor, use a Hass avocado.




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