The Chinois: A Fine Strainer for the Dysphagia Kitchen

photo-1449300079323-02e209d9d3a6Cucumbers are in season. Here is a cucumber soup. It is not the cucumber as you usually think of it; this one is juiced in an old-fashioned electric juicer. Cucumber juice gives this Cucumber Vichyssoise (the French term for potato and leek soup) a slightly green color. It is very appetizing and very cooling in summer. The soup is made with cream and is known for its smoothness. Even the name of the soup is smooth as it rolls off the tongue. There is a reason for the cliché, “Cool as a cucumber.” Besides, the cucumber has fantastic phyto-chemicals and is known to be good for the skin,

For the Puree

The recipe for this soup calls for it to be pureed to a creamy texture. No additional puree is required. You may need a pump of gel Instant Thickener to bind it, and make it the correct texture for the consumer.


As an alternative to the luscious velvet-y cream, this soup could be made with full-fat coconut milk. Use a non-dairy sour cream for the topping. As long as the topping is pudding thickness, there is no reason it cannot float on this pudding-thick soup.


This recipe calls for the use of a chinois, a very fine strainer. That makes it a perfect tool for the dysphagia kitchen. They are available at cooking and restaurant supply stores, as well as online. This recipe also calls for a juicer; juicers are generally available at home and kitchen supply stores, as well as online (the Test Kitchen tested the recipe using a blender instead of a juicer and passed the puree through a strainer). I have a little electric model that works fine.


I have a friend who is juicing to lose weight. She uses the juice in her mixed juices. She purees the fiber that is separated from the juiced item and uses it for soups and sauces. It adds a nutritional boost, and it adds flavor. What is the difference between a nutrition extractor, like the Nutribullet, a favorite tool in the puree kitchen, and an electric juicer? The nutrition extractor liquefies the fiber in vegetables and fruits. It blasts through the cell walls. The juicer separates the juice from the fiber. The fiber may be used in baking, such as in pancakes or cornbread. You puree the fiber before adding it to the recipe. This can be for a quiche, an egg custard, scrambled eggs, etc. Some recipes, such as those for zucchini pancakes, call for grated vegetables. Use the juiced fiber instead. One added benefit – in the dysphagia kitchen, one always wants to add color to food. The fiber is an excellent way to do this while preserving the nutrients that would otherwise be discarded with the fiber. Often, the best nutrients are in the fibers. Waste not; want not. Some people use the fiber as compost, but it is good food.

A Great Starter Recipe for the Chinois

The author of the present recipe, from the Los Angeles Times, suggests serving the soup garnished with basil crème fraiche or cherry tomato confit. For the home cook, a substitution would be sour cream with a squeeze of basil paste from the Gourmet Garden line. (This herbal paste is a convenience item. One may always puree the basil leaf in a little olive oil or the sour cream.) Cucumber Vichyssoise is a cold soup. The recipe is great for the Dysphagia Kitchen because it has smoothness and body. This is not a runny soup. It’s the essence of smooth. It’s not heavy. It’s light and delicate.

For a Meal

For a protein side, grill some shrimp with lemon and olive oil, salt and white pepper. Shrimp must be deveined and tails off, after cooking. Tails add flavor. Puree twenty seconds in a nutrition extractor. If more is needed, puree in short increments of ten second, watching until the shrimp puree smooth. Don’t get char on the shrimp. Cook on medium heat until they turn pink and opaque. It’s very simple. A half dozen to a dozen shrimp is a serving of protein, depending on the appetite of the diner. I use an indoor grill on medium high. If you prefer, stir-fry the shrimp in a sauté pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. If you like, add a clove of finely minced garlic for a minute, and a splash of fresh lemon juice at the end. Simple and summer-y!


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