Minted cucumber soup with fried halloumi

Serves 4
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Over the years I've adapted my chilled cucumber soup recipes – I used to blend the cucumbers from raw, but now I favour slightly cooking them as I have done here, which tends to extract a little more flavour.

1 small leek, thinly sliced and washed
1tbsp olive oil
2 cucumbers
600ml vegetable stock
A small handful of mint leaves, washed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
125-150g halloumi
½tbsp olive oil

Cut a quarter off one of the cucumbers, halve it lengthways, scoop out and discard the seeds and finely dice the flesh; reserve for the garnish. Gently cook the leek in the olive oil, in a covered pan, for 2-3 minutes until soft.

Add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then roughly chop the remaining cucumbers and mint, add to the stock and simmer for 2 minutes and remove from the heat.

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. Season.

Cut the halloumi into 1cm dice and dry on some kitchen paper. Heat the olive oil – preferably in a non-stick pan – and fry the halloumi on a high heat until golden, then remove from the pan and drain on some kitchen paper. To serve, pour the soup into bowls, then scatter over the cucumber and halloumi.