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Cucumber Soup with Watercress

written by Marsha Seidelman, M.D.

Adapted from myherbsmag.com

I had a few extra cucumbers from my Hungry Harvest take this week. I saw this recipe and thought it was a simple, low calorie way to use the cukes without having to eat endless salads. I always like to try new herbs, and watercress is something I don't recall cooking with before, so I wanted to try this particular recipe. Watercress reminded me of the taste of wasabi arugula that we grew last summer. It has quite a bite to it, but was very mild when combined with the cucumber. In fact, I added several dried spices to liven things up a bit.

To decide about the herbs, I worked with this as I often do - I spoon off a mini portion of the soup for testing. Then at different spots, I drizzle a bit of the herb I want to try, taste it, and decide whether that herb gets added to the whole dish or not. Then on to the next and the next. For instance, I tried nutmeg, but it didn't seem to add anything, so I moved on. After adding basil, dried savory, garlic powder and oregano, it was still too bland, so I added paprika. I could have gone with cayenne or chili, but the paprika worked well. Some days I'm more brave than others! This dish can probably take on any favorite taste you'd like to give it.

Here's tonight's result:

Ingredients:
2 salad cucumbers
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 leek, outer layers removed, the rest soaked in water then rinsed to remove dirt
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup of fresh watercress
1/4 cup of fresh basil (optional)
1/2 tsp salt to taste, depending on sodium in broth
1/4 tsp pepper
Mixture of your favorite spices - I used a light sprinkle of oregano, garlic powder, and savory, then finally added some paprika for a little kick.
Dollop of plain yogurt, optional

Directions:
1) Put up the broth to heat through.
2) Wash, peel and slice the cucumber lengthwise. Then remove the seeds with the edge of a spoon and slice into pieces.
3) Slice the leek and let it simmer in hot oil. Then add the cucumber and mix together for 2-3 minutes.
4) Pour in the hot broth and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until tender.
5) Remove from the heat, add most of the watercress, all the basil and mix with a handheld mixer until smooth.
6) Tasting as noted above, add salt, pepper and spices to taste. Top with a dollop of yogurt if desired.
I'm curious to try the leftovers to see how it would taste cold.

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