There was nothing wrong with the Green Monsta I drank for lunch last week. It was delicious. And I’m sure it was good for me, seeing as how it contained kale, spinach, banana, matcha, almond butter, dates, and coconut water.
But there is something dangerously Soylent-like in drinking a smoothie instead of eating a meal. I don’t mean the fearsome green stuff in the 1973 thriller. But remember Soylent, the 2013 meal-replacement product invented by technology entrepreneur and bio-hacker Rob Rhinehart to make it possible to keep coding whatever it was he was coding nonstop?
And, really, as those of you who saw that 1952 episode of I Love Lucy already know, what’s Vitameatavegamin without the booze?
In case smoothies have edged out old-fashioned summer soups at your house, I’m here to turn back the clock with two that cannot serve as meals unto themselves.
There aren’t enough ingredients in either recipe to make these “functional beverages.” They’re a way to settle in around the table and still look forward to a real dinner.
The corn soup has just three ingredients: corn, water, salt. It does require you to turn on the stove. It tastes like good summer corn, but more so. I now do it a little differently than Gourmet magazine told me to 20 years ago, because I think leaving the cobs in to simmer with the kernels makes the soup even better. Sprinkle a few chives on top to make it look like you made an effort. This is just the perfect first course to precede digging into a platter of pan-seared bluefish with that cherry tomato compote of Katherine Alford’s.
The cucumber soup gives you a way to hide the ones that got away from you by a day or so. Its ingredients: yogurt, cucumber, salt. Spoon in minced red onion and mint when you serve it and all you need is a pair of Edouard Fontenot’s grilled lamb chops for afterwards.
You do need a good blender for these.
Cold Cucumber and Yogurt Soup
1½ lbs. cucumbers
3 cups whole milk yogurt
2 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
Garnish: minced mint and red onion
Cut up the cukes, skin, seeds, and all, and drop them into the blender. Add the yogurt. Blend. In fact, turn the blender up to 11, blending until the soup is super-smooth.
Chill thoroughly, for several hours. Correct the salt. You can stir in a few ice cubes if you find you want to serve it before it’s really, really cold.
Just before you eat, mince a slice or two of red onion and handfuls of mint leaves and spoon them on top as a little more than a garnish.
Fresh Corn Soup
10 ears of corn
6 cups water
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
Garnish: minced chives
Scrape the corn off the cobs and into a soup pot — you should have about 8 cups of corn. Drop the cobs into the pot too, once they’re scraped; they still have flavor in them.
Add the 6 cups of water and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, until corn is tender. Remove the cobs, scraping them into the pot as you go.
When the soup has cooled to room temperature, blend it and blend it some more. Then pour it through a coarse sieve, pressing on the kernels to extract every bit of juice from the solids. Discard the solids and chill the soup. (If the weather has turned cool on you, this soup is also good served hot.)
Correct the salt and stir in a little water if the texture seems too thick. Garnish with minced chives.