Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cold Cucumber Soup (Harlech)

Cold Cucumber Soup (Harlech)

¾ pint chicken stock
¾ pint buttermilk
½ cucumber
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons mint chopped or dash Tabasco

Put the stock, which must be free of all fat, in a blender with the buttermilk.  When blended, add the cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks.  Blend again until it is in tiny pieces, yet not absolutely smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  

Chill 2- 3 hours before serving, then sprinkle each bowl with chopped fresh mint or a dash of Tabasco.

NOTE:   On this crisp-apple Pennsylvania fall Sunday, I found myself wandering through one of my mother's old recipe notebooks and discovered her handwritten notes for this simple and appealing soup, which she attributed to "Harlech."  Based on the vintage of the looseleaf, I'm guessing that my mother copied this from a newspaper article concerning Pamela (Lady) Harlech's 1977 volume, Feast Without Fuss.  Undertaking further research, I discovered that Lady Harlech's (she was at that time the food editor of British Vogue, as well as the wife of David Ormsby-Gore, Baron Harlech) book provoked controversy upon publication and was cited as an especially grievous example of recipe plagiarism, a recurring problem in the cookbook publishing world and not only among "celebrity" authors.  Nonetheless, this soup looks very good to me (there's absolutely no reason that a "borrowed" recipe would be a bad one), and as someone who drinks iced coffee even on blizzard-y mornings, I can and do enjoy a chilled soup anytime.  I like the chopped mint vs. Tabasco alternative.  It's like having really cool reversible clothing -- two looks for the price of one.  Those familiar with the history of the Ormsby-Gores know that their story mixes high achievement with terrible family tragedies.

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