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Cucumber soup is a staple dish mainly in Slavic cuisines, with many recipes for the soup calling for the use of Polish pickled cucumbers. These types of soups are frequently served cold, although some recipes for hot cucumber soup are also available as alternatives. Other ingredients that can be added to this dish include avocado, onion, garlic, and parsley. Various kinds of yogurt or sour cream are often used as toppings for cucumber soup as well. Since many of these recipes result in cold soups, they are usually associated with summer, when fresh cucumbers are often easy to obtain in many areas.
Polish pickled cucumbers are those that have been soaked and stored in brine often similar to that used for kosher dill pickles. Traditional Polish cucumber soup recipes typically require these types of sour pickles, as well as cooked potatoes, carrots, and sometimes small amounts of cooked rice. Some cooks prefer to use fully sour Polish pickles while others feel that newer pickled cucumbers that have not soaked as long yield a better soup flavor. During the initial preparation, the cucumbers are usually peeled, cut lengthwise, seeded, and then softened in a hot stove top pan before being pureed in a high-speed food processor. Some recipes may also instruct the home cook to peel and then grate the cucumbers into a minced paste instead.
In addition to its light and refreshing taste on a hot summer day, cucumber soup is frequently considered a healthy food choice. It has low amounts of carbohydrates, cholesterol, and saturated fat; it can also be a good source of potassium. The popular dollop of sour cream can add some fat, but generally a small amount if a lighter sour cream is selected. Other topping alternatives can include Greek style or low-fat plain yogurt. Some fans of cucumber soup also garnish their dishes with parsley sprigs and a few round cucumber slices before serving.
Since some diners consider cold soups to be an acquired taste, recipes for hot cucumber soup can also be easily accomplished. Many of them call for either chicken or vegetable cooking stock combined with white cooking wine and sautéed cucumbers and onions. Some cooks also add meats such as chicken or lamb to their recipe versions of this hot soup if they prefer. Whether served hot or cold, these soups often get additional flavor from spices such as black pepper, thyme, nutmeg, and tarragon.