Watercress Soup

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One of my earliest memories as a kid was my father taking the family out on excursions to Antelope Valley, about an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles where we lived. We used to go out there to pick pears, look at the jack rabbits, and just wander around the rugged terrain.

There was a creek that ran along where we would hike, and in this creek grew watercress. It was rather miraculous to my six year old brain that we could find what we often ate for salad, growing over boulders, in and around tumbling and churning creek water. “Well that’s why they call it ‘water’ cress,” explained my dad.

We loved it then, and still do now, though it seems to be more difficult to find in the market these days. Have you ever had watercress? The real kind with thick stems and a spicy bite? They sell some aquaculture baby watercress at Whole Foods, but I refuse to buy it because to me it’s not the real stuff. Watercress shouldn’t be delicate, it should pack a punch.

It’s great in a salad with a hot bacon dressing. It also makes a terrific soup. This watercress soup has a potato base and is topped with just a little sour cream.

Watercress Soup Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8

Watercress can often be found, when in season, in the herb section of the grocery store. The bunches should be thick-stemmed, and the leaves should have a strong, peppery bite to them. The delicate, thin-stemmed baby watercress that some markets carry is not appropriate for this soup.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups white or yellow onion, chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 cup white wine, chicken stock, or vegetable stock (wine or veg stock for vegetarian version)
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 6 cups water
  • 6 cups fresh watercress, about 1/2 pound, chopped, stems included
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • About 6 Tbsp sour cream, stirred in, or for garnish

Method

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1 In a large pot, heat the butter until frothy, then cook the onions over medium heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Salt the onions as they cook. Add the wine or stock, potatoes and water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pot and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.

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2 Add the watercress to the pot. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and purée the soup with an immersion blender. If you don't have an immersion blender, pour the soup in batches into a blender and transfer the blended soup to a clean pot. Be careful when blending hot liquids to only fill the bowl a third of the way, and to hold down the blender's lid while you purée the soup.

3 Add salt to taste, then add the black pepper. You can either stir the sour cream into the whole batch of soup, or serve a tablespoon in the center of each person's bowl.

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Links:

Watercress Soup with Chicken and Ginseng - from Noob Cook

Creamy Watercress Soup with Sage - from Sippity Sup

Cantonese Watercress Soup - from Soy and Pepper

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Showing 4 of 20 Comments

  • Kathleen

    As was mentioned earlier it is imperative to clean wild watercress. In some areas it can house liver parasites. Soak it in 1tsp hydrogen peroxide per qt of water for 20 mins. and then soak in plain water for 20 mins. 1 of the healthiest greens on the planet, and so versatile. Try a pesto!

  • Mary-Angela

    I love watercress too and I agree that the best is the stuff you forage. But please note that in some parts of the world it can carry parasites that are quite dangerous. I think the East Coast in US is ok whereas the West Coast and Europe have more cases, but I am not an expert, so you should google “watercress liver fluke” to find some info. Apparently it is quite safe to eat it cooked, even if it has parasites (the snails you often find are part of a complicated life cycle that involves also a mammal host). I know this much because I found all this amazing watercress last weekend, growing just outside Philadelphia. We picked and ate bundles of it before bothering to check… It seems you had lots of it growing up with no ill effects, but still, I am interested in this delicious sounding recipe for soup, which I will probably cook for our dinner tonight. Thanks!

  • kayshin

    just fyi, you can frequently find watercress in asian markets. it’s usually about a dollar per bunch (in the philadelphia area). you have to wash it very carefully though- you can find a lot of small insects and/or small snails when you give it a good soak. although a little extra protein probably doesn’t hurt :)

    i’ve never tried watercress in a soup, so i’m intrigued. i usually saute watercress with some garlic and call it a day!

  • sava

    Hi, please let me know what is latin name for watercress. Superb recipe.

    Here you go: Nasturtium official. You can find more information about watercress at the Wikipedia. ~Elise

  • Elena Patton

    Hola ! i’m Elena , And the recita for water crest has been a favorte of mine since childhood . As a child we would go to the open ranges of the Arizona desert country side and as soon as we get to our selected campground we would go for a walk in the beautiful wild life of the AZ. trails . Their we woud reach a fresh water creek running through full of water crest and my uncle would gather the freshes water crest and we would gather mesquito wood for the barbacoa we would use the crest as a garnish for our meal that he would preper and most of the time it would be barbacoa w/fresh flour thin tortillas made by the ladies of the family in a home made comal/ grill fresh made salsa and a bowl of pinto bean soup garnished with water crest how wonderful a memory can that be and stay in my teste buds all these wonderful sixty nine yrs. later . I’m looking forward to prepering this wonderful recipe of fresh water crest soup soon . Thank You for the Great memories . Sincerely , Elena Maria Guzman

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