<i>Serves 6 </i>

Cucumber consists mostly of water, so it needs gentle cooking with flavourings to help it blend smoothly and prevent it separating once it is chilled.

Cucumber consists mostly of water, so it needs gentle cooking with flavourings to help it blend smoothly and prevent it separating once it is chilled.

1 leek, roughly chopped and washed
2tsp caraway seeds
1tbsp vegetable or corn oil
4 cucumbers, roughly chopped
600ml vegetable stock
A few sprigs of mint
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Gently cook the leek and caraway seeds in the vegetable oil, in a covered pan, for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and add the cucumber and mint. Season and simmer for 3-4 minutes, then remove from the heat and blend in a liquidiser until very smooth. Strain through a medium-meshed sieve (a fine mesh will trap too many bits) into a bowl set over some iced water to cool it quickly and prevent discolouring.

If you're eating straight away, garnish with finely diced cucumber, or a blob of yoghurt or crème frâiche. If you're taking it with you, keep the soup cool in a flask and add the garnish at your picnic spot.

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