Wednesday 14 October 2015

Cold Cucumber, Herb & Yoghurt Soup with Verjuice Granita

I hope you'll enjoy this cold yoghurty cucumber soup, topped with feathery flakes of frozen Verjuice. With its lovely contrast of herbal creaminess and sweet, crunchy acidity, this is a splendid starter for a blazing day. There are deep, clean, singing flavours here that make you want to drink it in buckets, as if it is exactly what your body craves.  This low-carb recipe is suitable for diabetics.

Cold Cucumber, Herb & Yoghurt Soup with Verjuice Granita 

Wine recommendation by Michael Olivier.  He says: "Klein Constantia Metis Sauvignon Blanc 2014." 

 It looks like: Packed in the bottle embossed with the Constantia logo, the fusion of philosophies is reflected in the flower on the label that is a hybrid of the South African Protea and French Iris. In the glass a pale gold with green amber flashes. 

 It smells like: Pure classical good Sauvignon aromas. White fleshed peaches and nectarines. Grapefruit oil. 

 It taste like: Rich, vibrant palate. Generous fruit, blackcurrant leaves, almost savoury. Minerals present in the exciting lime squirt in the long aftertaste. This is a laster if well stored could go up to 8 years after vintage.

I've had fun this month developing a series of new recipes using Verjuice, and this is the first of nine. Are you familiar with Verjuice?  It's a delicate, slightly tart, somewhat sweet, unfermented juice made from unripe grapes, popular as an acidulating agent in Roman times and the Middle Ages.

In recent times, this ingredient's been revived by Maggie Beer, one of Australia's best-loved cooks, food writers and restaurateurs. My aunt, the brilliant Gilly Walters of Wedgewood Nougat fame, introduced me to this ingredient some years ago, and I always have a bottle of it in my kitchen. What I love about Verjuice is that it doesn't have any of the throat-raspiness of vinegar - it's a gentle ingredient that sings sweetly in the background.

Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing some of my new Verjuice recipes with you, and I hope they encourage you to experiment with this intriguing ingredient over the festive season (you'll find it at Woolies).

When I first wrote this recipe down, I recommended serving it immediately, but I found that its flavour developed and mellowed over the next day, so feel free to make it up to 24 hours in advance (but keep it in the fridge, tightly covered, in a non-metallic bowl).

Make sure the serving bowls are very well chilled, or make pretty ice bowls in which to serve this beautiful starter.

Cold Cucumber, Herb & Yoghurt Soup with Verjuice Granita 

For the granita:

½ cup (125 ml) Verjuice

For the soup:

2 chilled English cucumbers (about 700 g)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) Verjuice
1 cup (250 ml) Greek yoghurt
1 small clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/3 cup (80 ml) chopped curly parsley
1/3 cup (80 ml) chopped chives
3 Tbsp (45 ml) chopped dill
1 tsp (5 ml) Tabasco sauce
3 Tbsp (45 ml) cream
salt & milled black pepper

First make the granita.  Pour the Verjuice into a small metal pan and freeze for 45-90 minutes, or until just frozen - the time it takes will depend on how efficient your freezer is.  Use a fork to scratch and scrape at the surface to create light, feathery crystals. Return the dish to the freezer.

Lightly peel the cucumbers, leaving a little green skin here and there. Roughly chop and place in a food processor with all the remaining ingredients, except the cream and seasoning.  Whizz until very smooth. Now stir in the cream and season to taste with salt and plenty of black pepper.

Serve immediately in chilled bowls, topping each serving with a heaped spoonful of Verjuice granita, plus a scattering of chives or dill fronds.

Serves 4.  

(Note/Disclaimer:  I was paid a professional fee to develop these recipes and supply photographs, but this fee did not include featuring them on my blog and elsewhere. This I do because I'm pleased with these dishes and want to share them with you.)

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