Dad’s Chilled Cucumber and Buttermilk Soup

Dad’s Chilled Cucumber and Buttermilk Soup

My Dad has this great recipe that I’m going to share with you. It is a perfect summer soup. And really, really easy to make. Soup is a perfect lunch as far as I’m concerned but summer and soup and no air conditioning are not natural friends. I love gazpacho (because a tomato in almost any form is fine by me). But sometimes you want something else. There is something I love about cucumbers, they always seem so clean and crisp and fresh. (Maybe this is also because for many years my favorite body wash was cucumber scented – Kiehl’s I’m looking at you, why oh why did you stop making it?) I think Dad must have made this soup for us once when we were visiting and we are inveterate stealers of ideas, especially when we owned a restaurant.

But before I give you the recipe I’m going to tell you that the fact that I’m sharing a recipe from my father is not a surprise. He’s a very good cook. He’s precise (family trait, not quite so intense in me, though certainly there) and loves to finely chop things. His salsas are things of military precision. His ‘mise en place’ would make professional chefs weep. He’s too slow for the professionals, but you could get out rulers and be impressed.

It’s not a surprise to share a recipe from 2018 dad. Even 2008 or 1998 or 1988 Dad was good in the kitchen. But 1977-78 dad? Those were some rough years. Newly divorced from a woman who knew her way around a kitchen. A woman who made bread and canned and pickled and just generally had that stuff in her bones. Not a fancy cook by any stretch. And ultimately, not a very interested cook. She was good at what she did, but as soon as she didn’t have to, she didn’t. Dad, he got curious. He had to teach himself. No one taught men born in 1935 to cook. At least not this man. He had dancing lessons and picked peaches in the summer. He was the oldest son. He didn’t cook.

So, here he was, newly fully in charge of two young girls for the summers. One pretty fussy about food (me – things have changed, really, really changed!) So, as I imagine, he got out cookbooks (it was the 70’s, in a midwest college town, my parents were both very, very healthy eaters, not hippies exactly but some older and wiser similar type – you can start to get a picture….) and followed recipes to the letter. He looked for healthy foods. Life sustaining foods. And foods he could make in bulk so that we could feast off leftovers and this whole cooking malarky could wait for a few days to get started again. Because there could be cereal for breakfast and peanut butter and jelly for lunch.

Thus was born the legendary Bean Goop Incident of 1977. It was a soup or stew of some sort. The mere mention of it can still reduce my sister and I to tears, though at least now they are tears of laughter. At the time it was serious. Dad had made food. We didn’t have a lot of money. Food was not to be wasted. My sister and I will claim we ate that bean goop for an entire summer. 

I won’t share that recipe. It makes a terrific family story but nobody has ever tried to recreate it. Happily, Dad makes terrific food these days. Did I mention how easy this soup is to make? Enjoy.

Chilled Cucumber and Buttermilk Soup


  • 1 lb cucumbers peeled and de-seeded
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 garlic clove smashed
  • 2 scallions
  • 1/2 jalepeno de-seeded - you can leave this out if you avoid spices but I like the little kick it gives the mildness of the cucumber
  • 1/2 cup mixed herbs basil, mint, parsley, tarragon, cilantro - really, anything
  • 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt


  1. OK, here we go, I told you this was easy! Put everything in the food processor (or blender). Blend until smooth.

  2. Eat.

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