I first had watercress soup when my mum took me out to a posh restaurant for lunch several years ago. The restaurant has sadly shut down since then however it is still something we talk about. Why? Well there are several reasons (all of them good) but one of the main ones was the fact that I had never actually tried a lot of the food that I had there. It would be quite an expensive mistake to go to a fancy restaurant and order something you didn’t like so it was a bit of a risk ordering food I had no experience of. Luckily, the food was delicious. The starter, as you may have guessed from the introductory sentence, was watercress soup.
Watercress is a semi-aquatic plant – it grows in a very wet environment either with soaked soil or where the roots are fully submerged with the plant floating above. It can be eaten raw or cooked and is picked at different stages of growing depending on what it is required for – the plant can grow to around a metre From what I can ascertain from the internet, it seems like the name watercress derives from the growing conditions rather than the fact that the leaves are 95% water but all evidence appears to be highly circumstantial.
Watercress soup is a classic vegetable soup which is thickened with potato. The starches from the potato provide the texture while the stock, onions and watercress provide the flavour. Like any leaf based soup (for example: spinach), the leaves are added right at the end of cooking, just before blending. This is because you want the leaves to wilt a little in the heat but not cook through and go soggy. No one likes soggy watercress. What you are effectively doing is blanching the watercress in the soup and then blending and serving.
Like many soups, this is simple to make dairy-free and vegan by simply substituting the butter with oil or margarine and the cream with some sort of dairy alternative.
Time: 25 minutes
1 medium onion
2 bags watercress (probably around 150g altogether)
750ml vegetable stock
50ml single cream
Salt for seasoning
Melt the butter in a pan and heat until foaming.
Roughly chop the onion and add it to the pan. Sweat the onion until it is translucent.
Roughly chop the potatoes (no need to peel them) and add them to the onion along with the stock.
Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Roughly chop the watercress and add it to the pot.
Lightly simmer for no more than five minutes.
Blend the soup.
Stir through the cream and season to your taste.
Serve with a drizzle of cream.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. If you are a fan of soups, check out my tomato soup recipe or maybe even my recipe for coconut and purple sweet potato soup – the colour is fantastic and the taste is pretty good too.
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a recipe for sweet, yeasted treat.