The dill adds a peppery note to this lovely summer soup, which can be served chilled or hot, depending on the weather.
FOR THE SOUP:
- 425ml milk
- 1 onion, halved
- 2 cloves
- 6 cucumbers
- 60g butter
- A pinch of sugar (optional)
- 60g plain flour
- 800ml good chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill leaves
- 100ml double cream
FOR THE SANDWICHES:
- 75g unsalted butter
- 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- 150g smoked salmon
- 1½ tablespoons double cream
- 12 slices good brown or white bread
- 1 bunch watercress, washed and cut into sprigs
- Fresh dill sprigs (optional)
- For the soup, put the milk, onion and cloves in a small saucepan. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and cover. Leave for 30 minutes, then strain, reserving the milk.
- Meanwhile, peel the cucumbers, slice in half lengthways and use a teaspoon to remove and discard the seeds. Roughly slice and drop into a large pan of unsalted boiling water. As soon as the water returns to the boil, drain the cucumber.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the cucumber, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and sugar if using. Gently stew for 5 minutes or until the cucumber is soft.
- Mix in the flour with a wooden spoon. Cook for 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk, stirring all the time. As the mixture thickens, add more milk, followed gradually by the chicken stock. Simmer gently for 20 minutes, then add the chopped dill and liquidise. Add the cream and season to taste. Chill until needed.
- For the sandwiches, process the butter, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and some freshly ground black pepper in a small food processor. Add the smoked salmon and cream, and whizz until smooth. Season to taste and spread on to 6 slices of bread. Top with the watercress sprigs and gently press the remaining slices of bread on top. Slice off the crusts and cut into fingers, triangles or squares. Wrap tightly in clingfilm. Chill until needed.
- The soup thickens slightly as it cools, so you may need to thin it, if serving chilled. Decant the chilled or reheated soup into the thermos flask. Pack the dill sprigs in a small polythene bag.
To drink: The picnic ideal is a single wine which is suitable for all the savoury dishes and doesn't require a corkscrew. Sparkling wines, especially Champagne and English, are an obvious choice for a chic picnic. From Hampshire, try Jenkyn Place Brut 2009, £23.99-£25.95, selected and , or the strawberry-scented Jenkyn Place Rosé 2009, £24.95-£28.50, and . A stylish and good value Champagne is Barnaut Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs, £27.95, . If you don't mind a supermarket label, Taste the Difference Champagne 2005 is vintage quality at a non-vintage price, £25.99, . For the ultimate picnic splash, there is the recently released Krug 2003, £235, . Still white wines for these dishes, should be fresh, lively, not too delicate but not too powerful - most Sauvignons are too intensely flavoured; most Pinot Grigios too bland. Villa Maria Cellar Selection Arneis 2013, goes very well. Other good options are: a Chablis, such as Domaines Brocard Premier Cru 2011, £15.99, ; Godello from Spain, Italian whites such as Greco di Tufo and Grechetto or dry Provençal rosés (and whites) are other good options. If you want to serve a red, it requires a light touch: try New World Pinot Noir or a Beaujolais-Villages. Wine details correct at original magazine publication date.
From the June 2014 issue of House & Garden. Recipe by Sybil Kapoor; photograph by Martin Poole; food preparation and styling by Aya Nishimura; table styling by Alexander Breeze; wine recommendations by Joanna Simon.