Paula Recommends …Chilled Cucumber Soup with Avocado Toast

Cold cucumber soup with basil, green on a white wooden background, top view

Using the abundance of summer’s harvest to make a chilled cucumber soup whirled together in the blender is one of the quiet rewards of the warm months. The trick to making this instant lunch or hearty dinner is not skimping on the seasonings, especially when something as mild as cucumber is the main ingredient. Garlic, a generous amount of herbs, jalapeño and anchovy add plenty of flavor and plant phytochemicals.  – Paula Meyer, Mission Training Center Nutritionist 

1 1⁄2 pounds cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 cups buttermilk (or use 1 1⁄2 cups plain yogurt plus 1⁄4 cup water)
1 large garlic clove, peeled and smashed
2 anchovy fillets (optional)
2 small whole scallions, trimmed
1⁄2 jalapeno, seeded, deveined and chopped
1⁄2 cup packed mixed fresh herbs (like mint, parsley, dill, tarragon, basil and cilantro)
1⁄2 teaspoon sherry or white wine vinegar, more to taste
3⁄4 teaspoon kosher sea salt, plus more to taste
8 slices baguette or other bread, toasted
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced
1⁄2 lemon
2-3 Tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
Extra virgin olive oil, for serving
Freshly ground pepper
2 ears of corn, shucked, kernels sliced off
Fresh dill, for serving

1. In the bowl of a blender or food processor, combine cucumber, buttermilk or yogurt, garlic, anchovy (optional), scallions, jalapeno, fresh herbs, sherry vinegar and salt. Blend until smooth and adjust seasoning as needed.
2. Smash avocado slices on the toasted bread. Sprinkle with crumbled feta, squeeze the juice of the lemon half over the top and finish each with a drizzle of olive oil and some pepper.
3. Distribute soup between 4 bowls and garnish with raw corn kernels and a drizzle of olive oil.
4. Serve avocado toast on the side.

Nutrition information: Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 375 calories; 14 grams fat; 3.5 grams saturated fat; 51 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams fiber; 600 milligrams sodium; 14 grams protein; 225mg calcium