Food, family and tradition.

We are still living in the era of a pandemic, and perhaps just because we are living during this time, I find myself cooking and baking a lot of the time (even though it is summer, when I usually cook lightly and grill a lot). We eat most of our meals outside – I think we just enjoy being outside as much as possible even if just to feel like we are not isolated. And in this warm weather, nothing is more refreshing than cold soup, fresh salad, and cold fruit dishes.

Traditionally our cold soups have a cream base, like cream or a sort of sour cream. In the small city of Vasarosnameny, Hungary, when my mother was growing up, her family got all their milk products from the milk that they bought from the farmer down the street. They brought their special kosher bucket and watched the farmer milk the cow, to be certain the milk was kosher. Then they had milk and butter, which they churned at home, as well as yogurt or sour cream or cheese (like a farmer or cottage cheese style) which they also made at home. So, many of our traditional foods uses these cheeses.

My cousin, Ibi Gelb, tells me that this custom of eating cold soups during the summer continued in her hometown of Munkacs, while she grew up in the Soviet Union – especially because when it was hot, they did not want to use an oven and heat the house.

She was describing the cold cucumber soup that they ate at home, and it uses all the ingredients that my mom’s family also used so often in Hungary.

So today, I just made a cucumber soup and am sharing it with you – Personally I think it would be best as a light appetizer, serving about ½ cup per person, but Ibi likes to eat it in the traditional style - a full bowl topped with a diced hard-boiled egg for a complete, one-bowl  meal.

Ibi likes to use Kefir, which is similar to what they made “at home” – I love the tangy taste of Kefir and then you do not need to add lemon juice for a tang (unless you want to)

Here goes:

Grate about 5 mini cucumbers in a medium bowl. Add about 1/3 cup of finely chopped herbs – parsley, dill and mint. Pour 4 cups (or one bottle) plain Kefir and mix. Add some freshly ground pepper and a bit of salt to taste. Refrigerate to let the juices of the cucumber and the herbs all blend. Serve in small cups or bowls. Just before serving drizzle a bit of olive oil and top with finely diced cucumber. Feel free to add some finely diced red radish and diced hard-boiled egg.

Enjoy!