21 February 2014

Watercress and Leek Soup - fantastic green gorgeousness

Just look at the colour of that soup!
At the bottom of the Le Blender review, I said that I would detail the recipes used if anyone was interested.  Well, there seems to be a fair amount of interest in the Watercress & Leek soup, so here we are - one recipe.

Now I will hasten to add that I borrowed one of Saint Delia Smith's recipes for the soup, however as is always my way, I tweaked it about a little.  It would seem that you folk out there trust my tweaks and want to have the tweaked version - which makes me very humble.  Saint Delia, I apologise for usurping your recipe!
It looks so good for you, with such beautiful colours

Because I was testing Le Blender for the review, I was naturally particularly interested in a soup which required blending - and so I wanted something that I knew would resist the blender a little.  Now I have made watercress soup in the past and had terrible trouble getting it smooth - but only because I had a weedy blender.  However, do bear in mind that if you have an especially low powered blender, you won't be able to get the soup to a completely smooth texture.  It won't change the flavour, but just be aware so that you're not all disappointed that you can't get it as smooth as you might like it to be.
You see how it loses some of the vibrancy of colour in being cooked

Making the soup is easy peasy double squeezy, as they say.  It is easily tweaked to your own palate's preference, if you like more watercress to leek, then up the quantity of watercress and drop the quantity of leek.  Equally, if you prefer the leek to the watercress, reverse that process!  The one big difference between the two recipes is that I opted to retain some of the watercress and include it uncooked.  This not only brightens the colour of the soup, but also helps the watercress flavour along and is very well worth doing.
Ready for the raw watercress and then to be blended

Now, one thing that is also worth mentioning, is about the butter.  Owing to my having developed a sensitivity to cow's milk, I have taken to using goat's butter - which is just gorgeous.  Yes, it does carry that slight "goaty" flavour that a creamy goat's cheese has - but in this soup goat's butter is a match made in heaven and better for your digestion too.  By all means use cow's butter, but if you like goat's cheese, I'd give it a go.

Mmmn.  Smooth as silk and tasty as they come!
My last cook's tip, is about the quantity.  The following quantity makes either enough for three people for a main course, or sufficient for four or five for a starter.  The soup would make a fantastic starter, being that lovely combination of creamy and light.

So let's stop blathering about it and get on and make it!

WATERCRESS AND LEEK SOUP   (feeds 3 for a main course or 4-5 for a starter)

Ingredients :

150g watercress
75g butter
2-3 leeks, washed and chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced finely
1 litre approx of a good vegetable stock
half a tsp of white pepper
half a tsp of freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
a pinch of sea salt
2 dessertspoonfuls of creme fraiche.

Method :

1.  Separate out two big handfuls of watercress and retain in a bowl.

2.  Heat the butter in the bottom of a deep saucepan with a lid.  Once melted, add the remainder of the watercress, the chopped leek and diced potato.  Stir everything until it is covered with the melted butter, then add a tablespoonful or two of water and cover with the lid.

3.  Allow the vegetables to sweat over a low heat until softened, stirring occasionally to make sure that the potato doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan, for around 15-20 mins.

4.  Add the stock and white pepper and stir well.  Bring up to simmering point and allow to simmer until the potato is tender and will fall off the point of a knife.

5.  Remove from the heat and add the retained watercress.  Allow the soup to cool slightly and the watercress to wilt, before blending to your preferred texture.  Season to taste with a little extra sea salt and some of the black pepper.

6.  Return to the pan and reheat gently - do not allow the soup to boil - while you add the creme fraiche.  Stir through until it has dissolved into the soup.

7.  Serve in warmed bowls, with a little black pepper and some watercress leaves (there are always some left clinging to the bowl) as garnish.


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