Monday, August 22, 2011

Cream of Watercress Soup: a touch of French sophistication

This delicate and refreshing soup from Tours is based on watercress, a piquant herb that I grow in my garden.  The key to a perfect result is to blanch the watercress to remove most of its acid first, and then simmer it in broth for several minutes to mellow the flavor.  The result is a light cream soup with just a hint of sharpness.  Perfect as a starter for a sophisticated meal.


1 large bunch watercress, stems discarded
2 tbsp butter
2 medium-large gold potatoes, peeled and sliced
3 cups chicken broth
salt & pepper
1 cup milk
1/4 cup crème fraîche (may substitute heavy cream)
pinch nutmeg


1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the watercress, reserving a few sprigs for garnish.  Blanch for 90 seconds.  (Blanching for a shorter time will yield a green soup.  If blanched for more than 2 minutes, the watercress will lose its flavor.)  

2.  Drain, rinse the leaves in cold water, and squeeze dry with your hands.  

3.  Melt the butter over low heat in a soup pot.  Add the watercress and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the remaining liquid has evaporated.

4.  Add the potato slices and chicken broth and bring soup to a boil.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.

5.  Reduce heat to med-low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until potato is tender.

6.  Turn off the heat.  Using an immersion blender or food processor, puree the soup.  (If soup was removed from the pot to do this step, return it to the pot.)

7.  Stir in the milk.  Turn on the heat to med-low and return the soup to almost (but not quite) boiling.

8.  Turn off the heat.  Add the crème fraîche and nutmeg, stirring well to incorporate.  Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning.  

9.  Using a slotted spoon, remove any large pieces of watercress that remain.  

Serve hot, or ladle into bowls and chill for one hour in the refrigerator for a cold soup.  Garnish with the remaining sprigs of watercress.
Bon appetit!  

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to try this recipe! We were at a fancy dinner theatre performance over the weekend for my birthday, and one of the five courses was a cream of watercress soup. It was lovely, even picky hubby approved! For almost every recipe I've seen online, the soup is far greener than what we had... and almost none of them mention blanching the watercress first. Your picture looks very much like what we ate and with simple ingredients.