Cooking With Char Celebrates — We’re One Year Old Today!

Cucumber soup Velet Turtle

It is probably gauche to sing Happy Birthday to oneself – and as my family constantly tells me, I can’t sing anyway! So I’ll just say how wonderful this first year has been!

It’s really hard to believe that a whole year of blogs and recipes have gone by. It really seems as if it was just yesterday when I sent the first one to be posted and how excited I was to see it – online – with my byline!

I was proud and humble – all at the same time. Now, a year later, I must thank my wonderful sister who does all the techie stuff, keeps me in line when I get too verbose (now she’s rolling her eyes!) and makes sure everything is posted.

But I am most grateful to you, my loyal fans – those who started with me and those who have joined during this year. I hope you will tell your friends as there will be more stories, more recipes and I hope, more fun!

In honor of Cooking With Char’s Birthday Celebration, this week’s recipes will be for a full Celebration Dinner. Today we will start with one of my favorite cold soups served at the former Velvet Turtle restaurants (owned by the fine gentleman who founded Wally’s Desert Turtle in Palm Desert, but it doesn’t feature this soup as far as I know….). This will be followed by Sole Galliano and dessert: Well, you’ll have to wait for that one (OK, yes it WILL be chocolate!

Thanks for a wonderful birthday; watch us grow!

Velvet Turtle’s Cucumber Soup

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 c chopped leek (white part only)
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded and chopped (not English/hothouse) divided (reserve 1/2 cup for garnish)
  • Unsalted butter
  • Salt & white pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. dry white wine
  • 2 c water
  • 1-1/2 tsp. chicken base (I use Better Than Bouillion)
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 c whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 5 drops only hot pepper sauce (I use red Tabasco)
  • Pinch chopped fresh or dried dill
  • 1/2 c half and half
  • Dill sprigs and/or coarsely chopped chives for garnish, optional

Sauté onion, leek and cucumber in 2 Tbsp. butter until onion is transparent but not brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (I use white pepper as I don’t want black specks.) Cook and stir to blend flavors, about 2 minutes, over low heat. Add wine water and chicken base and bring to the boil. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a small pan and blend in the flour to make a roux. Do not brown the roux. Add the roux to the onion mixture and simmer over low heat for about 1 hour. Put soup through a blender or food processor for about 15 seconds until fairly smooth; then press through a fine sieve to remove all remaining solids. Add whipping cream, lemon juice, pepper sauce, dill and reserved diced cucumber. Refrigerate immediately and let soup get cold. Correct seasoning and add half and half if soup is too thick.

Serve in chilled soup bowls. If desired add 1/2 tsp sour cream on top of soup, swirl lightly and serve with lemon wedge and dill sprigs, and/or coarsely chopped chives.

Serves 6

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