This might be the best time to live in Southern California. It’s February and, while most of the country is pulling on their winter coats and salting their sidewalks, we here in Temecula are hitting the beach on the weekends and basking in 80+ weather. Not gloating, just stating a fact.
It was quite funny, then, when I picked up the latest issue of my favorite food magazine only to see pages and pages of comfort food, soups and baked goods. It all looked great, but I couldn’t picture myself enjoying a steaming bowl of stew as I sat there adding another coat of SPF 30 to my shoulders.
Enter: every Southern Californian’s answer to hot weather food in a month that should be cold…chilled soup. I know, it sounds like an oxymoron. But, seriously, when it’s hot outside, a great cold soup cools you down beautifully – and this one is like taking a cool drink of water. Fresh, cool and delicious.
Go ahead, kick on the A/C, uncork a bottle of recently released 2015 Arneis and make some of this incredible Herbed Cucumber Soup. Why? Because, again, it’s February and soup makes sense.
Herbed Cucumber Soup
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Soups cookbook
- ½ cup Marcona almonds, coarsely chopped
- 1 seedless cucumber – also called Hothouse or English cucumber
- 1 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt (I like Fage brand)
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 garlic clove, grated or finely minced
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
Chop half of the cucumber and then puree that in a food processor for about 30 seconds. In a bowl, combine yogurt, buttermilk, pureed cucumber, all the herbs and the garlic. Stir until combined. Chop the remaining cucumber half into small dice and add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours. Serve bowls of soup garnished with the chopped Marcona almonds.
Make a complete “winter meal on a hot day” by adding a winter-inspired salad to go alongside the soup. Oranges are amazing right now, so don’t be stingy with them in this salad!
The Restaurant at Ponte’s seasonal take on the Harvest Salad
Winter Citrus Salad
- Assorted dark, leafy greens like baby spinach, arugula and kale – about 1 lb total
- 2 oranges, peeled and cut into circles (you can also use clementines)
- Seeds from 1 large pomegranate
- 4 oz soft goat cheese or chevre, crumbled
For the dressing
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
- 2 tsp orange zest
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- ½ shallot, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
Wash and dry the greens and place in a large salad bowl. Top with orange circles, pomegranate seeds and goat cheese. To make the dressing, stir orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, Dijon and shallot in a bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until combined. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle dressing over salad. Serve immediately.
Enjoy this entire meal with the aforementioned 2015 Ponte Arneis, a crisp, medium-bodied white wine bursting with nectarine, pear and grapefruit flavors.
Winter? What winter? Come see us, the weather’s great!
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