Watercress Soup

Watercress Soup

DSC_9252It’s hard to believe a weedy little thing like watercress can make such an addictive soup.

I first tried watercress soup when we lived in England.  It, like the Carrot and Coriander Soup came fresh in little cartons.  I don’t know if I can accurately describe what it was like to bundle into the house on a freezing rainy day, then just pop fresh soup on the stove – make a few slices of toast and immediately be transported to a French bistro.

The years we lived in England were particularly intense.  It was in the 2002-2006 range, and as you know, the military was under incredible duress during those years.  Stress trickles down to families, and some of my best coping techniques found their origins in that little flat we lived in, in the middle of Cambridge.

I cooked, and I studied food intensely.  I also painted.  When my husband came home from a deployment, he found that I had painted almost every piece of furniture in some psychedelic combination of brightness.  He was kinda surprised.

But in all seriousness, the painting and the cooking made me happy.  It got me through some stressful times and it kept my mind in a positive place.  And it was cheap furniture anyway that we weren’t going to keep for long.  It wasn’t antiques or anything.  Actually, when we moved back to the U.S, I had a huge yard sale at our new home in Newport, Rhode Island, and some of my painted furniture sold at a great price!  I made over $1000 in that yard sale!  So..you know…there’s a little method to my madness.

I digress….

Coping positively is very important.

Lately, working on my posts is really helping me not worry about my kids.  And believe me, the kids appreciate it.  So when you are reading my blog, you are actually contributing to me not completely micromanaging and hovering over my kids like an Apache helicopter stressing over things I cannot control.  I’m quite sure my whole family thanks you for that.  Ha.
DSC_9179Watercress soup is potato-based.  We’re going to use the Light Garlic and Chicken Broth that I made last week.  I recommend that broth for this soup, but a boxed or canned chicken broth will do.

DSC_9183My family loves this soup!  Besides the fact that it’s so delicious, it’s ultra nourishing too.  Watercress contains significant amounts of iron, calcium, manganese, folic acid and vitamins A, B, C and K.  So whenever we are feeling a big “off”, I make a big pot of this.

DSC_9188Start by chopping up one yellow onion.
DSC_9196Now peel and chop three medium potatoes.

DSC_9193Saute the onion (stir almost constantly) over medium-high heat, in 1/4 cup olive oil.  DSC_9198It will take about 10 minutes for the onion to soften and the edges to brown juuuussssttt slightly.

DSC_9205Toss the potatoes in with the onions and pour the about 7 cups of chicken broth over the top of it all.  Set over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes.

While the pot is heating, you can pick over the watercress.  Watercress is part of the radish family.  It’s peppery, and the stems contain most of the biting hot flavors.

DSC_9209I like a mild watercress soup, so I pick off as many leaves as I can, with some stem attached.  I discard all the yellow, thick stems and use the leaves for the soup.  Observe the above:  Left – keep.  Right – discard.

DSC_9210Here are the leaves and tender stems that I’m going to put in my soup.  It’s hard to measure a big bunch of greens like this, but I did weigh this bunch and it’s about 4 ounces.  Four ounces will go in the soup.  I don’t really think you have to be meticulous in the weighing and measuring of the watercress leaves.  Another two ounces would not have made a difference here.  The soup would just be more green and a little more flavorful.

DSC_9229So, when the potatoes are nice and soft, throw the leaves into the pot.
Simmer for five or six minutes more.  The leaves are going to wilt a lot and you are going to look at this and be like, “Wow, weed soup.  Thanks, Shannon”. 

And I’m going to be like, “Keep reading ya big baby dear”.
DSC_9235Food processor.  You’ll need to puree this in two batches or it will spew all over your kitchen.  Yes, I know that from experience.  So half in, puree, move that batch to a separate bowl.  Second half in, puree, move both batches of pureed soup back to the pot.

DSC_92381/2 cup heavy whipping cream.  And salt.  I cannot tell you how much salt to use.  All I can say is keep adding a little salt (1/2 tsp) at a time and keep tasting it.  One of the best cooking skills you can possess is knowing how to season your food.  You will never learn this from a book or a blog or a show.  You need to season and taste.  Season and taste.  Keep going and you will taste the flavors coming out a little more each time.  Soon, you will taste layers of flavors.  Stop right there.

One method of seasoning I use is to put soup in a little bowl.  Season that just right.  If you mess up and add too much salt, no harm done.  It’s just a little bowl. But if you taste the soup changing as you season it, you will know what a difference the salt is making.  You can season the pot of soup accordingly, then.

Salt.  Very important.

I serve all my soups with a little “fancy toast”.  That’s what I call it anyway.  Shortly after I photographed this, my husband came home and had this for lunch.  I added a little bacon to his “fancy toast” though.  He loved it.

I put the rest in this jar, but alas, it’s gone now too. Haha.  My teenage daughter came home from school and was so excited to see her favorite soup.  Poor thing was starving so she devoured the whole thing.  I’m glad.  Flu season and all.  She needs those vitamins.  You know….I worry.  I worry…
I’ll have to make some more tomorrow.
Bye for now.

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