He got the idea during his last trip to Berlin: Cucumber Rakı Cream Soup. Martin Laurentius is 27 and an emerging cook in Kassel. After his training, he had wanted nothing more than to go to France and see the local cuisine and restaurant concepts there for himself. We’ve already gotten a chance to try out his art: The Cucumber Rakı Cream Soup tastes delicious!
Before Martin began his cooking training, he studied Geography. But he missed doing practical work, and quit studying quite quickly. “Cooking has always been my hobby. I love talking with people about it,” he said, justifying his career choice.
He especially places emphasis on the quality of the products in the kitchen, and therefore on their taste, as they’re where the dishes come from. His experiences as a seller at a weekly market are what make him know all vegetable types so well. “I enjoy going shopping in Turkish vegetable shops or supermarkets because I know that they pay mind to freshness and variety.” Our guest cook likes to bargain. “It’s a culture that has been lost in Germany. I look carefully at the products. If they’re not as fresh as they’re priced, then I bargain the price down. That also works when I buy in bulk. The best thing is: In the end, everyone is satisfied.”
The idea for Cucumber Rakı Cream Soup came to him spontaneously just two days before our interview. Martin has enjoyed drinking rakı in the past. But cooking with it was an experiment. He was confident that the drink would suit cucumber soup well taste-wise because one normally adds French Noilly Prat to it, which also has anise. There aren’t any other dishes with rakı, Martin says, but you can modify any dish that includes alcohol. For example, the anise schnapps goes well with fish.
When cooking it, the rakı is added at the beginning so that the alcohol vaporises at the high temperatures, and only the aroma remains.
For those who aren’t rakı fans but would still like to try out the recipe, Martil recommends anything that has a slight liquorice taste like pastis, noilly prat, fennel or herb spirits. And just leave out the lemon or orange slices that are brushed with rakı and dried in the oven and swim as a garniture on top of the soup.
Afterwards I asked Martin whether garlic should be included as it’s the most controversial of the spices. Of course, he finds garlic “superb”. However, for the cucumber dish it would be too intense, as the cucumber, fennel and anise aromas work well together, and garlic would overpower that. But with grilled vegetables or pasta dishes with a lot of oil, a note of garlic can be added. Martin’s personal favourite food: Shellfish and fish.
Dear Martin: ellerine sağlık!
Lemon or orange chips:
Cut a lemon or orange into thin slices with a sharp knife. Brush both sides with oil (soak in rakı as needed) and dry on baking paper in the oven at 80°C. Intermittently turn the slices over and open the oven door or keep it open.
Melt 30g of butter in a pot and glaze the spring onion cubes. Cleanly slice conventionally cultivated cucumbers. Thoroughly wash biologically modified cucumbers and cut into chunky pieces, and then cut these into finger-width cubes and add to the spring onions.
Heartily salt the cucumbers, such as with a pinch of sugar and fennel seed or aniseed. Braise the cucumbers in their own juice at high heat until the juice only covers the bottom of the pot. Dust with flour and then deglaze with rakı. Fill it all up with cold broth and let cook for 20 minutes without a lid.
Puree the cucumbers in the broth with an immersion blender, and then run it through a fine sieve. Before dressing the soup, bring it to a boil, then add 25g of cold butter in small pieces and work into the mix with the immersion blender.
Place a teaspoon of whipped cream on the top of the soup. Lay a dried lemon or orange slice on top and garner with a dill twig.
Text: Melis Sivasli
Photograph: Nikolai Ziener
Recipe: Martin Laurentius