I have always loved watercress. Its peppery taste, crispiness, so amazing. My favorite pairing is definitely with salmon. I put it raw into salad with smoked salmon, make it into a puree or foam to have with a piece of sous vide or baked salmon. Never disappoints.
But most importantly it makes a powerful, nutrient dense and easy soup. I have been making this soup for about 10 years, pretty regularly. I saw a recipe once from Raymond Blanc.
He makes it into a decadent, creamy, thick soup with spinach and some classical French cuisine tricks such as butter 🙂 🙂 🙂 I made it several times and it is amazing. His very important advice, which I always keep whether I make his rich version or a healthier, lighter one, is to saute the leaves only for a short time then boil it with a little stock and immediately add ice cubes instead of water to stop cooking completely, preserving all the nutrients and color. I cook this soup. You can have it raw but the taste will be much stronger and it is advised only if you really like the taste of watercress. Also if you make it raw it is a good idea to add more spinach than in the cooked version, to lighten the flavor.
My version is very easy, takes 15 minutes to prepare the soup. Usually I make my soup with creme fraiche but this time I added some home made almond cream, to keep it vegan. Creme fraiche is the best dairy choice for this soup. Cream would be too heavy, sour cream too tart, creme fraiche is the perfect balance.
So, how to make the soup? (aka instructions)
First of all wash the watercress and spinach and pat them dry. Chop the white onion or shallots. These are sweeter than yellow onion and suit the soup much better. Sautee the chopped onion on olive oil until becomes translucent then add the watercress and spinach and continue wilting them for a couple of minutes only. Add the vegetable stock. Cook for 2 minutes after boiling and immediately take it off the heat, add some ice cubes to cool it. This will stop the cooking immediately and the soup retains color and nutrients. Pour into your blender, add minced garlic, salt, pepper, almond cream or creme fraiche and blend to desired texture. It is good both with some chunkiness or creamy.
This time I made the soup with lamb’s quarters instead of spinach. I found these leaves at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. It is cultivated in some regions, but the plant is elsewhere considered a weed. It contains the same type of nutrients as spinach, including potassium, vitamin A, C, B6, Magnezium, Calcium, but in a much grater amount. So it is definitely a recommended leafy vegetable.
There are endless possibilities for garnishing. You can stick to only a few watercress leaves, you can serve it with a garlicky whole grain toast, some toasted nuts or even crumbled sheep or goat feta, if you eat dairy. If you are lucky to get lamb’s quarters with the purple tiny leaves, you can garnish your soup with it, the color is amazing!
Ingredients (yields 4)
- 1 white onion, chopped (or 2 shallotts)
- 2 tablespoon of olive oil
- 3 cups of watercress
- 3 cups of lamb’s quarters (or spinach)
- 2 cups of good quality, low sodium vegetable stock
- ice cubes
- 2 tablespoon of almond cream (or creme fraiche if you eat dairy)
- touch of ground nutmeg
- himalayan salt, ground black pepper to taste
- stir in a squeeze of lemon juice before serving.
- watercress and lamb’s quarters leaves
- radish flowers, or any edible flowers
- optional: any toasted nuts / crumbled goat or sheep feta, matcha powder