Chef Michael Allemeier of Mission Hill Family Estate in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley created this soup and says it is best when made with fresh, peak-of-the-season cucumbers from the farmers’ market or the garden. Start the soup the night before to allow enough time for the cucumbers to render their liquid.
A mostly dry Riesling from Canada, New York or Washington, with its balance of slightly sweet flowers and clean citrus, pair well with the fresh cucumber, ginger and rich crab meat; recommended producers include Five Vineyards from British Columbia, Dr. Konstantin Frank from New York’s Finger Lakes, and Chateau Ste. Michelle from Washington’s Columbia Valley.
- 4 large cucumbers
- 1 leek
- 1 head fennel, trimmed and chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 4 ounces cooked fresh Dungeness crab meat
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint chiffonade (see Note below)
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
The day before you plan to make this soup, wash the cucumbers well and cut in half lengthwise. (Don’t peel them.) Using a spoon, scrape out all the seeds. Dice the cucumber and scoop into a food processor.
Cut the green leaves off the leek and, holding the root end, slice it lengthwise almost to the root. Wash well to remove all sand. Cut off the root, remove any remaining green leaves and dice the white part. Add the diced leek, fennel, dill and salt to the food processor. Purée until smooth.
Place a large piece of cheesecloth in a bowl so that the corners hang over the side. Pour the cucumber mixture onto the cheesecloth. Collect all the ends of the cloth and tie them together to form a bag. Tie the ends to a shelf in the refrigerator and place a bowl under the bag so that the liquids from the vegetable can drain through the cheesecloth. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, gently squeeze the bag to release any remaining liquid; then, discard the bag and its contents. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into another bowl. Taste and season the liquid with salt if necessary. Chill until ready to use.
When you are ready to serve, combine the crab, mayonnaise, mint, and ginger in a bowl, mix well, taste and season with salt if necessary.
Pour the chilled cucumber water into 4 chilled soup bowls. Using two tablespoons, form the crab salad into 4 quenelles: With one spoon in each hand, scoop about 1 tablespoon crab salad onto one spoon, cover with the other spoon, and shape into an oval. Gently place a quenelle into the center of each bowl of cucumber water. Serve immediately.
Note: For a chiffonade, make a stack of the mint leaves, then rollup the stack; with a sharp knife, cut the roll crosswise into thin strips, or ribbons.