One of my earliest memories is of 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 jackrabbits, 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.
Where to Find Watercress
If you have trouble finding watercress in your regular market, try Indian or East Asian grocery stores.
Check out local farmers markets when watercress is in season (usually April through September in the Northern Hemisphere).
You can also grow it yourself from seed, but be sure to trim before the plant begins to flower and turn bitter.
Or forage it—but only if you are confident you know how to identify the plant. Also, make sure the nearby water is very pristine. Don’t harvest it if you suspect there might be runoff or contamination.
Selecting the Best Watercress
Watercress is related to mustard greens. It grows wild in running water year-round. Look for crisp, dark green leaves without any blemishes. If you see any flowers, it means the watercress will be bitter.
Cress may look like watercress but is a different plant. It grows in soil and is a more delicate with thinner stems, more akin to baby watercress.
How to Prep Watercress
If you're preparing watercress for a salad, you'll want to trim off the stems. For this soup, however, include the stems. Be sure to wash the greens a couple of times in a basin or sink full of cold water. Keep washing until you don't see any more dirt. Remove and discard any limp or yellowing stems.
Make a Lighter Watercress Soup
- You can replace half or all of the potatoes with zucchini. The consistency will be thinner, but the color will be a brighter green.
- Substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream.
- Use a vegetable broth for a nonfat option.
How to Store and Reheat Watercress Soup
Watercress soup can be stored in the refrigerator for three to five days. Just be sure to leave out the sour cream until serving.
It can also be frozen (sans sour cream) for up to three months in an airtight container. Defrost overnight in the fridge. Then, gently reheat in a saucepan until heated through.
Breads and Rolls to Pair With Watercress Soup
- Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls
- Potato Dinner Rolls
- Mini Garlic Butter Pretzels
- Cheesy Jalapeno Pull Bread
- No Knead Bread
Watercress can often be found 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.
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups white or yellow onion, chopped
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 tablespoons sour cream, stirred in, or for garnish
Cook the onions in the melted butter:
In a large pot, heat the butter until froth. Then, add the onions, cooking over medium heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Salt the onions as they cook.
Add the wine and potatoes and simmer:
Add the wine (or stock), potatoes, and water and then bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low. Cover the pot and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.
Add the watercress:
Add the watercress to the pot. Stir well and cook for 2 more minutes.
Puree the soup:
Turn off the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender. If you don't have an immersion blender, pour the soup in batches into a regular blender and transfer the blended soup to a clean pot.
Be very 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 puree.
Season and garnish before serving:
Add salt to taste and then add the black pepper.
You can either stir the sour cream into the whole batch of soup, or serve a tablespoon of it in the center of each person's bowl.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 6g||8%|
|Saturated Fat 4g||19%|
|Total Carbohydrate 19g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||8%|
|Total Sugars 4g|
|Vitamin C 21mg||103%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|