The French have this unique way of turning the simplest ingredient into the most lush of recipes. A filet of fish can be transformed into the loveliest meal; slightly bathed in butter, shallots, fresh Tarragon and red grapes with a touch of cream – bringing elegance to a simple pairing of ingredients. How about peppercorns pounded into a beautiful cut of beef, pan seared in butter and then topped with a quick pan sauce? This dish makes for a scrumptious meal that is simply prepared but rich with flavor.
So it didn’t surprise me when I found this recipe for Watercress Soup in one of my cherished French cookbooks. A few years ago, my daughters had the pleasure of visiting France with their most generous and adoring Great Aunt and Uncle. Yes, my Aunt and Uncle spoiled the girls completely and it was a trip of a lifetime that they still talk about today. Visiting Paris with all it’s history and architecture and of course the food, the girls couldn’t help but bring me back a cookbook to add to my ever expanding collection. Filled with the loveliest recipes that are beautifully prepared with seasonal ingredients in methods only the French could create.
This watercress soup recipe brought back memories of a soup I dined on back East years ago. It was also a watercress soup but it included additional ingredients of spring peas and asparagus. It was beyond delicious. This soup however is simply prepared but certainly not lacking in flavor. With a nice base of creamy potatoes, onions and garlic, it’s an easy soup to make and holds beautifully in the fridge. I topped the soup with a dollop of creme fraiche but a dollop of plain Greek yogurt would also be delicious.
Comforting, warm and so completely perfect for spring, I adore the pale green color of the soup. It would make a lovely presentation on a Mother’s Day Brunch table or even a family dinner. I served this soup a la carte with warm crisp baguette slices topped with apple slices and Gruyere cheese and then melted slightly in the oven. Yes, it was fabulous!
Wishing you all a most delicious week!
Loads of Love,
Watercress Soup with Creme Fraiche
2-3 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 large clove of garlic, finely diced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
2-3 cups vegetable broth
2 lbs watercress, trimmed and coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (if needed)
1/2 - 1 cup heavy cream or half n half
Garnish with chopped fresh chives and creme Fraiche (or plain Greek yogurt)
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large soup pot and add the onions. Let the onions soften for a few minutes and then add the garlic, potatoes, thyme and Italian parsley. Stir to combine.
Stir in 2 cups vegetable broth, enough to cover all the veggies. Bring the broth to a boil and then turn down the heat, cover and let the veggies cook until the potatoes are soft. About 10-15 minutes.
Once the potatoes are soft, stir in the chopped watercress, adding additional broth 1/4 cup at a time if needed. You want the soup to be thick with ingredients as you will puree it into a smooth soup and if there is too much liquid, the pureed soup will have too thin a consistency. You can always add more liquid at the end if the soup is too thick.
Let the watercress simmer for about 5 minutes, until it's nicely wilted. Take the soup off the heat and let it cool a bit. Then either transfer it to a blender or use an immersion blender to puree the soup.
Once the soup has been pureed, transfer it back to the soup pot. Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. To heighten the flavor of soups and to bring all those flavors together, I add a tablespoon of white wine vinegar to the soup. Stir this in now if you like.
To finish the soup, stir in the one cup of cream if desired. I used about 1/2 cup heavy cream in my soup. Ladle into bowls or one large serving bowl and garnish with creme Fraiche and fresh chopped chive. Enjoy!
This soup recipe was adapted from a recipe I found in my French book written by Maria Villegas and Sarah Randell. As usual, I made some changes to suit my tastes, but that's what I adore so much about a recipe, making it my own. Feel free to do the same!