The Professor and I have traveled quite a bit this summer and have enjoyed meeting new friends as well as tasting some incredible food. And while winter seemed as if it would go on forever, a double-take at the calendar confirms it is indeed July; April took us to the Los Angeles area, we spent 12 days in the Tuscany region of Italy in May, New York City in June, then Salt Lake City to celebrate July 4th and at the end of this month we’ll be heading out once again to Bucks County, Pennsylvania for Big Summer Potluck.
The familiar heat and humidity of summer in the Midwest has returned; farmers and their equipment make their way slowly up and down our country road – tanned, dirty, bare arms rest on window frames of John Deere tractors carrying rolls of hay; baseball caps are tugged tightly onto sweat-drenched heads while sunglasses are a necessary part of the summer farmer uniform.
Keeping the grass mowed, the gardens weeded, the pond cleaned, the decks swept and the feeders filled are part of the summer rhythm and fill the days when we are home; it feels good to be outside, albeit sticky. There is something hypnotic about moving from one familiar chore to the next; breaks in between mean sitting on the porch for sips of water or tea; lunch or dinner al fresco are common as well. Sometimes the neighborhood is quiet and other times filled with children squealing at being sprayed with the garden hose, basketballs bouncing on asphalt and the sound of low conversation as older kids whiz by on bicycles, skateboards or scooters . . . summer.
I’m sure we’re no different than the rest of you who look for lighter fare foods – more salads with veg from either the markets or our gardens and lovely chilled soups. I’m behind the times when it comes to kefir but I’m learning the health benefits are tremendous – people with celiac or gluten intolerances have trouble with digestion and absorbing nutrients and quite often cannot tolerate dairy. Finding lactose-free products that deliver on both performance and taste can be tricky. Green Valley Organics sent me a box of delicious goodies a while back and I have to say, I was instantly smitten; it’s a plus for me and The Professor that Green Valley Organics is the first line of organic, cow brand dairy, single source, lactose free yogurts and kefirs to be available nationwide. And it’s also nice to know that their products are free of artificial flavors, refined sweeteners, artifical coloring or preservatives – in other words – real food – can I just get an ‘Amen’ to that?!
I used the plain kefir to make this chilled Cucumber & Kefir soup – perfect for dinner al frescos with friends or even packed up for a picnic at the beach – all you need to add are great conversation and fun!
*Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Green Valley Organics. I am being compensated to develop a recipe and share information about Green Valley Organics Lactose-Free products with you; however, all opinions are strictly my own.
GLUTEN-FREE, LACTOSE-FREE CHILLED CUCUMBER & KEFIR SOUP
Makes approximately 6 cups
- 4 cups peel, halved lengthwise, seeded and chunked English cucumbers (hothouse variety)
- 1 cup Green Valley Organics Lactose-Free Plain Kefir
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemons
- 1 green onion including tender green tops, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped chives
- 3-4 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 teaspoons jarred horseradish
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2-3 Tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarsely chop the cucumber halves and place in a large bowl
- Add the kefir, preserved lemons, green onion, chives, dill, garlic, horseradish, salt and pepper
- Stir to combine, cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to blend the flavors
- After an hour, in a blender, puree the cucumber mixture until smooth
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours; the soup can be prepared ahead up to 12 hours and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator – just stir to emulsify to serve
- Just before serving, stir in olive oil
- Garnish with chives and dill; serve at once