Cold wild-fennel and cucumber soup

no need for the beach
no need for the beach if you live atop an Umbrian mountain

August is a long, slow month in Umbria. Most of the world seems to be somewhere else. Italians flock to the beach and everybody else believes it’s not a good time to be here so it’s very quiet here on our magical mountain.


the view from our former home near Assisi

Every evening at sunset we sit on the terrace with a glass of beer – we love craft beers recently – and gaze at the valley below. We live on all manners of salads and fruit, often it hardly seems necessary to eat.When it’s not too hot, we drag ourselves away from the views and go to village festivals or a flea market, another favorite and slow way to spend time.

at the flea market in Perugia
the flea market in Perugia held on the last Sunday of each month

My favorite festival so far has been the Barbarian festival (Festa dei Barbari) in Castel Rigone near the Trasimeno Lake. We got  to make a walk with a bunch of tough looking guys dressed up like Ostrogoths. They were getting ready to fight against the Romans in the local soccer field.

Goths getting ready to fight against the Romans
The threatening Goths of Castel Rigone getting ready to fight against the Romans

The Romans lost the battle, but as in all good Italian feasts, both sides ended up joining around the dinner table, children running in the piazza, vine flowing from metal tanks fashioned as a backpack and carried by the “soldiers”.

an especially fierce ancient Goth
an especially fierce ancient Goth

The Umbrian summer nights are quite magnificent, starry and  breezy. The villages in our area are buzzing with food, drinks, games, concerts, there is always something to do.

Summer night in August in Montefalco, Umbria
Summer night in August in Montefalco, Umbria

It’s so peaceful here, a million miles away from the angst of our cruel and beautiful world. We have our worries here too, we have our difficulties, but not watching television to avoid bad news and living modestly helps. We don’t need to achieve anything. We are gifted by peace in our little corner of paradise.

NB. This introduction refers to the time we owned a farm in Umbria, we have now moved to Rome where we still offer cooking classes

wild fennel and cucumber soup
a delicate, herby cold soup, great for a summer lunch




  • 300 g peeled cucumbers (about 10 oz or 1 English style cucumber or 2 regular cucumbers)
  • 50 g ( 3 tab) peeled almonds, not toasted
  • 120 g (4 oz) fresh ricotta
  • 1 small spring onion
  • a handful of wild fennel leaves, fennel tops or 1/4 fennel bulb
  • a handful fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • extra virgin olive oil, best quality
  • 1 slice crusty Italian style bread, toasted
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • one slice of lemon (optional)


Using a food processor, blend cucumber, almonds, ricotta, herbs, onion and salt until very smooth and creamy. Add 1-2 tablespoons of your best extra virgin olive oil. Make sure to taste the soup and adjust the salt or olive oil il if neded. Add a little lemon juice to bring out the flavor if the cucumbers are not sweet enough which happens if they are not fresh.

Divide into bowls.

Toast the bread, rub it with a clove of garlic, dice and place over the soup. Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil per person and serve. This soup makes a great light summer lunch or appetizer.

Serves 2-3





  1. We hope that you and your family are safe.



  2. I have everything you need to make this recipe and, even if it’s now September, the temperatures are still summer-like here, perfect for enjoying this lovely soup! Even if we do lack that spectacular view… 🙁

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