This classic French soup gets its body from the silkiness of the pured cucumbers and its kick from the peppery watercress. This soup becomes more flavorful as time passes, so don’t hesitate to make it 24 to 48 hours in advance.

SERVES 4 TO 6 AS A FIRST COURSE

2 tablespoons butter

2 medium onions, diced

4 medium to large cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeded, and sliced ВЅ inch thick

2 cups Vegetable Stock

2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon, or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon, crumbled

1 teaspoon vinegar

ВЅ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 bunch watercress, washed and patted dry

1 cup sour cream

  1. In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat and saut the onions for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the sliced cucumber, vegetable stock, tarragon, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, or until the cucumbers are very tender. Stir occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile remove a few perfect-looking watercress sprigs for garnish, wrap them, and chill them until ready to use. Tear off all of the remaining watercress leaves from their stems and discard the stems. Mince the watercress leaves and set aside.
  4. When the cucumbers are very tender pure the soup in a blender or food processor in batches. Pour the soup into a large bowl and stir in the minced watercress. Let cool for 15 minutes.
  5. Whisk in the sour cream, and chill the soup until it is ice cold, at least 3 hours. Serve garnished with the reserved watercress sprigs.