Serve this simple cucumber soup cold for a perfect summer lunch

Don’t ask me how, but I recently found myself watching old episodes of “The French Chef” featuring Julia Child on YouTube.

There could be worse media rabbit holes to fall into, I suppose. She makes me smile, and voila! I even found a recipe or two I wanted to try.

One of these was Soupe au Concombre, her version of Cucumber Soup, which was part of an episode in Season 5. The recipe greatly struck my fancy because of Julia’s adorable pronunciation of cucumber — koo-kahm-brey.

Unlike some of her dishes, this one is simple — or “a very quick and nice one,” as she said. It’s a perfect starter course or a light summer lunch, paired with crusty bread (French, of course), a simple salad and a nice crisp glass of white wine.

She uses farina or Cream of Wheat as the thickening agent, which adds a hint of a nutty flavor. The recipe calls for chicken stock, but she says you should feel free to use water instead, making sure to add more onions to boost the flavor.

While the recipe says you can eat either warm or cold, I found the cold version much more refreshing and flavorful. The delicate taste was definitely enhanced by garnishing it with cucumber slices, a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

And, as Julia says, “Bon Appétit.”

• M. Eileen Brown is the Daily Herald’s vice president of sales and marketing and an incurable soup-a-holic. She specializes in vegetarian soups and blogs at

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Soupe au Concombre

1½ pounds cucumbers (about 3 large)

½ cup minced shallots (or scallions)

3 tablespoons butter

6 cups chicken stock, plus extra for thinning if needed

1½ teaspoons white wine vinegar

¾ teaspoon dried tarragon

4 tablespoons farina (Cream of Wheat) breakfast cereal

1 cup sour cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Minced fresh parsley for garnish

Peel the cucumbers and cut 18 to 24 paper-thin slices. These will be used as garnish so reserve them for later. Cut the rest of the cucumbers into ½-inch chunks, which should yield about 4½ cups.

In a large soup pot, cook the shallots over low heat in butter until tender, making sure they don’t brown. In the same pot, add the cucumber chunks, stock, wine vinegar and tarragon. After bringing to a boil, stir in the farina and simmer, partially covered, for 20 to 25 minutes.

Purée the soup in a blender, along with half the sour cream, before adding it back to the pot. Salt and pepper to taste, and thin out the soup with more stock if needed.

When serving, garnish with a dollop of sour cream, cucumber slices and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.

The soup can be served hot or cold. If serving cold, store the soup in the refrigerator for at least four hours and serve chilled.

Serves 4 to 6.

— Julia Child’s The French Chef on PBS

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