Greek
Cold Cucumber Soup

This cold Persian cucumber soup, known as Ab Doogh Khiar, it's a refreshing way to reset a muggy summer day. Serve as a light main course with pita bread or in chilled glasses for an elegant dinner starter.

A closeup of a bowl of cucumber soup garnished with slices of sumac, parsley and cucumber on a plate.
Photo credits: Kathrine Irwin

I've heard this cold cucumber soup described as a “cucumber gazpacho” and I can definitely see the similarities. Like Gazpacho, it is a refreshing cold soup that takes only a few minutes to prepare. But while gazpacho uses stale bread for a heartier texture, this cucumber soup recipe is completely gluten-free, with a creamy base and lighter texture. You might say it's even more refreshing!

Just a handful of nuts adds strength while maintaining the lightness of cold yogurt. Cucumber and a blend of aromatic herbs further increase the refreshing qualities. If anything, this cold soup reminds me of Tzatziki, but with golden raisins adding a burst of balancing sweetness so typical of Middle Eastern cuisine.

You will absolutely love it! Especially on days when it's so hot, the idea of ​​cooking and eating seems overwhelming. But to be honest, this soup is so delicious that I would happily enjoy it even on a cold day!

Summary
  1. Cucumber Soup Ingredients and Substitutions
  2. Spotlight on ingredients
  3. How to make cucumber soup
  4. Blend it: For a smooth cucumber soup
  5. What to serve with cucumber soup
  6. More cold soup recipes
  7. Cold cucumber soup recipe
  8. Try our all-natural sumac!
Ingredients for cucumber soup including cucumber, yogurt, nuts, water, parsley, golden raisins, sumac, salt and some pita bread.Ingredients for cucumber soup including cucumber, yogurt, nuts, water, parsley, golden raisins, sumac, salt and some pita bread.

Cucumber Soup Ingredients and Substitutions

You only need a handful of pantry staples and some easy-to-find flavorings to make this classic cold cucumber soup.

  • Nuts add a nice crunch to the soup, counteracting the creaminess and adding a nutty flavor. Although it is not a traditional recipe, you can replace the walnuts with almonds, pistachios or pine nuts.
  • Plain yogurt brings the perfect light and refreshing texture. I don't recommend Greek yogurt, but if that's all you have, dilute it by simply adding more ice water.
  • Cucumber: I prefer Persian or English cucumbers, which have sweeter flesh and more tender skin. If you use a standard sliced ​​cucumber, remove the bitter skin before using it.
  • Tender green herbs like parsley, basil, dill, and mint are the main flavor creators here, adding a refreshing quality. Use your favorite herbs or a combination. If you must replace with dried herbs, use 1 tablespoon of dried mint.
  • raisins add bright, sweet bursts of flavor and welcome textural variety. You can use other varieties of raisins, but this will affect the overall appearance of the dish.
  • Sumac adds a tart, tannic flavor similar to lemon zest (read more about it below).
  • salt enhances the flavor.

Spotlight on ingredients

Sumac is a Mediterranean pantry staple that, in my opinion, doesn't get enough love in the United States! It's often described as lemon peel, but that doesn't quite capture its complexity. It's tart like lemon juice, earthy like beets and tannic like red wine all at the same time. You can use it to flavor your summer and winter soups, flavor marinades, pickles, salad dressings, and the list goes on!

An overhead photo of two bowls of cucumber soup garnished with slices of sumac, parsley and cucumber with spoons on plates with slices of pita bread.  Alongside these are bowls of nuts, salt, golden raisins and sumac.An overhead photo of two bowls of cucumber soup garnished with slices of sumac, parsley and cucumber with spoons on plates with slices of pita bread.  Alongside these are bowls of nuts, salt, golden raisins and sumac.

How to make cucumber soup

This simple recipe takes about 15 minutes, but try to leave at least an hour in your refrigerator. The nuts will soften, the aromatic herbs will infuse flavor into the soup, which will become infinitely tastier and more refreshing. Here are the steps:

  • Toast the nuts. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, shake and stir ½ cup walnuts until soft, golden and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Transfer it to a cutting board to cool, then chop it finely.An overhead photo of toasted walnuts in a pan.  Next to it is a kitchen towel, a bowl with salt and a cutting board with chopped cucumber and cucumber slices.An overhead photo of toasted walnuts in a pan.  Next to it is a kitchen towel, a bowl with salt and a cutting board with chopped cucumber and cucumber slices.
  • Prepare the cucumber. Thinly slice ¼ of a Persian or English cucumber and set aside to serve. Cut the remaining cucumber into quarters lengthwise, then use a metal spoon to scrape and remove the seeds. Finely chop the remaining cucumber. An overhead photo of cucumber slices and 4 cucumber quarters on a cutting board with a spoon.  The seeds were collected from one of the cucumber pieces with the spoon.An overhead photo of cucumber slices and 4 cucumber quarters on a cutting board with a spoon.  The seeds were collected from one of the cucumber pieces with the spoon.
  • Prepare and cool the soup. In a large bowl, whisk in 2 cups plain yogurt and 1.5 cups ice water. Stir in the chopped cucumbers, 1 cup chopped herbs (parsley, basil, dill, mint, or a combination), ½ cup golden raisins, and the chopped walnuts. Season with a pinch of salt. Cover and leave to cool for about an hour.An overhead photo of the parsley, chopped cucumber, golden raisins and walnuts right after being added to the water and yogurt mixture in a bowl with a whisk.  Next to this is a kitchen towel, bowls of salt and nuts and a sliced ​​cucumber on a cutting board.An overhead photo of the parsley, chopped cucumber, golden raisins and walnuts right after being added to the water and yogurt mixture in a bowl with a whisk.  Next to this is a kitchen towel, bowls of salt and nuts and a sliced ​​cucumber on a cutting board.
  • Serve. Divide the cold cucumber soup among four serving bowls. Sprinkle the sumac and herbs and finish with a few cucumber slices in each bowl. A closeup of two bowls of cucumber soup garnished with slices of sumac, parsley and cucumber on plates with slices of pita bread, one with a spoon.  Alongside these are bowls of nuts, salt and sumac.A closeup of two bowls of cucumber soup garnished with slices of sumac, parsley and cucumber on plates with slices of pita bread, one with a spoon.  Alongside these are bowls of nuts, salt and sumac.

Blend it: For a smooth cucumber soup

I love the rustic texture of Persian Cucumber Soup, with the little bursts of chopped cucumbers, nuts, and raisins, but I know some prefer a perfectly smooth soup. To do this, simply:

  • Blend the yogurt with the cucumbers and chopped herbs in a food processor.
  • Use a little ice water, not too much, and add as needed.
  • Save the nuts and raisins to garnish the soup.
A bowl of cucumber soup garnished with sumac, parsley and cucumber slices on a plate with a spoon.  Next to it is a tea towel and bowls filled with salt, golden raisins and nuts.A bowl of cucumber soup garnished with sumac, parsley and cucumber slices on a plate with a spoon.  Next to it is a tea towel and bowls filled with salt, golden raisins and nuts.

What to serve with cucumber soup

Serve cold cucumber soup with focaccia for a light lunch or as an appetizer for larger dishes. It's great for a summer barbecue followed by grilled chicken, like these Grilled Chicken Thighs with Sumac, Pickled Onions and Charred Lemon or Joojeh Kabob (Persian Chicken Skewers with Saffron and Yogurt). For dessert, choose something equally fresh and refreshing, like this strawberry pudding.

More cold soup recipes

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  • Toast the nuts. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, shake and stir the walnuts until soft, golden and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Transfer it to a cutting board to cool, then chop it finely.

  • Prepare the cucumber. Thinly slice ¼ of the cucumber and set aside to serve. Cut the remaining cucumber into quarters lengthwise, then use a metal spoon to scrape and remove the seeds. Finely chop the remaining cucumber.

  • Prepare and cool the soup. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt and ice water. Stir in the chopped cucumbers, herbs, raisins and chopped nuts. Season with a pinch of salt. Cover and chill for an hour or up to 3 days.

  • Serve. Divide the cold cucumber soup among four serving bowls. Sprinkle the sumac and herbs and finish with a few cucumber slices in each bowl.

  • Buy this recipe: Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including sumac used in this recipe.
  • Store cucumber soup, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Calories: 156.1kcalCarbohydrates: 15.8GProtein: 5GFat: 9.1GSaturated fats: 2.3GPolyunsaturated fats: 4.7GMonounsaturated fat: 1.6GCholesterol: 10.6mgSodium: 43.2mgPotassium: 327.7mgFiber: 1.5GSugar: 11.9GVitamin A: 118.8UIC vitamin: 2.5mgSoccer: 123.5mgIron: 0.7mg

Try our all-natural sumac!

This tangy, smoky spice is just what you need to kick up your cold cucumber soup.

a jar of sumac from the Mediterranean dish.a jar of sumac from the Mediterranean dish.

*This post originally appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2017 and has recently been updated with new media and information for the benefit of readers.

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