Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Watercress Soup

I was at Whole Foods doing my weekly grocery shopping and I saw watercress. It looked interesting and although I’ve never eaten it, and definitely never cooked with it, I bought it and figured I would just look into what to do with it later. If you haven’t noticed I will try anything once. My parents always encouraged me to try new things; they would always say how do you know you won’t like it if you don’t try it, so I always tried it, whatever it may be. In the past I have tried venison, rabbit, wild boar, escargot, and a ton of different veggies. I’m also that way with cooking, it doesn’t matter that I’ve never eaten it, never cooked with it, and never seen it on a cooking show, if I want to make it, I will. Sure I have to do a lot of “research” and I may discover I do not like things (rutabagas), but I learn so much when I cook creatively. I get that from my dad, growing up we were always calling him Chef Tell. When he was cooking he would add all kinds of stuff, we were making bacon and onion pizza well before bacon was even available as a topping for pizza (my mom always hated that pizza). He could never cook from a recipe. Well he would start with a recipe, but then add his own flair. Something I didn’t appreciate at the time, which is funny because now that’s the way I cook. I tend to follow my family recipes closely because clearly I’ve grown up with them and I love them, but when I find something new, it’s no holds bar. I love the challenge of creating something new and different. Unless we are talking baking! I rarely mess with baking, you need exact amounts of everything or baked goods will turn out horribly.

Anyway back to my newest experiment. While researching, I found out that watercress has its own website. A veggie with a website, that’s pretty awesome in my book! I found out that it is really nutritious, so I was really excited that I bought it. I looked at a ton of recipes and decided I wanted to make a soup. It was rainy and gross yesterday, so it was the perfect day for soup. One recipe that caught my eye was an awesome Indonesian soup with chunky PB. However, I wanted to actually taste the watercress since I’ve never had it. So I found traditional recipes for watercress soup. Most of them called for 2 bunches of the stuff or more, but I only had 1 bunch, so I basically created my own recipe. I tend to take the best parts of each recipe (in my opinion) and that’s what I cook. Most recipes called for cream or half and half. I wasn’t going to buy cream since I would never use it, but I did have some milk on hand. My recipe has about 2-3 servings. I would say it was good as a hot soup, but I am going to try it chilled for leftovers. It definitely converted me into a watercress fan and I will be trying some new stuff in the future.


1 ¼ cup of potatoes peeled and chopped
¾ cup of onions peeled and diced
1 clove of garlic diced
2 tbs of butter
Dried Thyme
Dried Italian parsley
1 ¼ cup of water (you can use veg stock or chicken stock here, but I don’t really like boxed veg stock and since you have garlic and onions your pretty much making a stock anyway. If you think about it back in the 1800’s or whenever this was created, do you really think they whipped out a box of stock? They certainly didn’t have any homemade stock in the freezer)
1 bunch of watercress stems and leaves chopped (remove the roots)
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup of milk room temperature

You will need a blender for this recipe, preferably an immersion blender.

In a medium pot over medium heat melt the butter then add the onions. Cook for about 2 minutes then add the garlic and cook until the onions and garlic are soft. Then add a few dashes of thyme, Italian parsley, salt and pepper. Then add your potatoes and water. Make sure you have enough water or stock to cover the potatoes. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Once at a boil bring it down to a simmer. You want to cook the potatoes until they are very tender (think mashed potatoes). While the potatoes are cooking wash and chop your watercress. Then turn the pot down to low and wilt in your watercress. My potatoes soaked up almost all of the water so I had to add more. Cook them about 2-3 minutes or longer depending on the size of your chop, you don’t want them to get mushy though and you don’t want them to loose all of their nutritional value. Then take the soup off the heat and blend it until it is smooth and creamy. You don’t want any lumps, so this will take some time. Once it is creamy, add your milk and turn your burner on low. Cook for 2-3 minutes then serve. You could cook it longer and reduce it further, but I don’t like mushy greens and I certainly like keeping the nutritional value. Plus it was an awesome green color and the more you cook green items the browner they turn.

The watercress is a little spicy so you do not have to add as much black pepper as with other soups. It is not bitter like other greens and it has a great flavor. The butter added richness to the dish and the potatoes added a lot of creaminess. A lot of recipes called for more cream or milk, but I kept mine in a small amount to keep the calories down. Also, cream would have made it more luxurious but that’s not what I was going for, but do your own experiment.

Hopefully this will encourage you to go out and try or make something new! Unfortunatly, my husband would not try it. He is getting more adventurous, but he still has his reserves, especially with veggies.


  1. Hey, Jen! Nice blog. A great way to make vegetable stock, especially since you are eating so many vegetables, so often, is to use your left over scraps. While this does not mean roots and peelings from root vegetables, it does mean almost any trimming you have when chopping.

    So, the tips of carrots, cores of zucchini if cutting out/around seeds, tops, bottoms, or outter layers of onions, shallots and scallions, parsley stems, thyme stems, chives and other mild herby stems, celery trimmings (just avoid the leaves, they can add a good amount of bitterness), etc. I've even used beet tops, but that can lend to a more bitter and deep colored stock. Fennel is also a great addition. Usually, outer layers and tops get discarded but they can be used here as well, just limit the fennels leaf parts. In the fall, the outter peelings of hard squash, butternut for example, can be used. Mushrooms can be tricky but are very suitable if you plan to use the stock for a mushroom based dish, such as soup, puree or mushroom risotto. Anyway, almost any veg can contribute to a stock with just some plain old water and heat.

    Just remember, roots and parts that taste like dirt will make the stock taste like dirt. Very bitter vegetables or vegetables high in acid (eg. tomatos) will also alter the stock significantly and should be limited. Regarding the bitter veg, some more mild, such as cabbage, can be added toward the end and just cooked for a short time. After this is strained and cooled, this tasty vegetable flavored liquid will last a long time sealed in the freezer.

  2. Thanks for the tips! I used to make my own Chicken stock all of the time. I normally just use water and just add a ton of veggies when I make soup now, but I will eventually make stock! I promise!