Simple Provisions

Food does not need to be fancy to be celebrated

Watercress and Spinach Soup

A few spectacular storms and crisper, darker mornings have heralded the start of Autumn in Kyneton. The grass in the backyard is becoming less crunchy underfoot as it soaks up the rain, soothing its sunburn, and the pear and apple trees have started to give us their fruit.

This is my first Autumn in 18 months. The endless Spring/Summer afforded to me from a cross-hemisphere move six months ago has been delightful. I’ve had a year of juicy stone fruit, fragrant tomatoes, crisp lettuce (some of which I grew myself), barbecued meat and long, warm evenings sitting outside with friends.

But as I pack away Summer, preserving fruit, making tomato sauce and pulling up the bolted lettuce, I’m anxious to start a new season of cooking. The produce at the Farmers Markets is also in transition and my basket had a bit of each season in it this week. When I spied a bundle of watercress I also picked up a potato and some spinach to go with the broth I had bubbling away in the slow cooker at home. It’s (finally) time for soup!

Watercress and Spinach Soup

Watercress is a delicate green with a strong flavour. Its peppery kick is best paired with equally strong partners like anchovies, goats cheese and roasted meats. When whizzed into a stock it lends its mineral freshness and vivid green hue, making it a perfect gateway soup between Summer and Autumn.

Watercress and Spinach Soup

The French and British like their watercress soup creamy whereas the Chinese prefer it more brothy, which is what I felt like. A home-cooked stock is always preferable, but a good quality store-bought one is ever so practical. The recipe calls for more greens than you think will fit in your pot, but if you stir them in in batches, they’ll wilt right down. Just make sure to get rid of the thicker stalks before you toss the watercress in, as they’re a little woody. A stick blender will make quick work of turning your stock of dangly greens and potato chunks into a smooth, emerald-coloured soup. A dollop of creme fraiche or greek yoghurt would fancy up your bowl, perhaps sprinkled with some nutmeg. Or just eat it plain for a delicious serving of your daily greens..

Watercress and Spinach Soup

Watercress and Spinach Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 850ml chicken stock
  • 300g baby spinach leaves
  • 100g watercress, thickest stalks removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper

Method

In a large pot fry the onion in the olive oil until it’s soft. Add the potato and cook for three minutes then add the stock and simmer for a further 20 minutes, or until the potato is cooked.

Add the spinach leaves and cook on a slightly higher heat for five minutes, stirring so the leaves wilt. Add the watercress and stir for another minute or so.

Take the pot off the heat and use a stick blender to liquidize the soup. Season with salt and pepper and add the nutmeg.

 

Serve with crusty bread. I baked a loaf of 6-seed soda bread while I cooked the soup. I used Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe, and opted for the seeded variation he explains at the end.

23 thoughts on “Watercress and Spinach Soup

  1. You are a bit of a culinary adventurer, so I reckon you’d definitely have some great posts to link with our new foodie link up this month. The colour of this soup is amazing!
    It’s called Our Growing Edge and we are calling all foodies to submit a post where they’re pushed their food boundaries.
    Check it out –

    http://keepingupwiththeholsbys.com/2013/03/01/our-growing-edge-a-monthly-food-link-up/

    It’s a great way for more people to find you, and you for to find like minded gastronomes!

    1. Amelia says:

      Thanks for the invite! I’ll have to have a think about my next challenge…

  2. Susan says:

    Stunning colour, and I bet the nutmeg really lifts this dish.

  3. Love a green soup – and as glimmers of spring appear after this crazy Northeast winter – just what the doctor ordered. Never think about adding watercress to soup or much else actually and am intrigued. Thanks!

  4. I always enjoy your recipes, will have to give this a try :) Do you have any canning recipes to share? I’d love to learn more about the art of canning.

    1. Amelia says:

      Hi Kristy! I am new to canning and tried a few different things with my pears on the weekend. This pear and vanilla jam from Food in Jars turned out great: http://www.foodinjars.com/2011/02/pear-vanilla-jam/. Marisa’s site (and book) is a great resource for small batch preserves.

  5. Great colours! I’ve never made watercress soup before – will save this recipe to try sometime!

  6. Ali says:

    This looks delicious! I usually just stick to making watercress and mushroom soup, so I’ll have to branch out and try some other watercress soups this season.

  7. Reblogged this on Welcome To The Nutrie Opportunity! and commented:
    sounds ands looks interesting especially because I love both

  8. helene dsouza says:

    hi there!
    I know garden cress soups but watercress is new to me. I wonder what difference there is between the two herbs. Lovely soup with the spinach, for sure super healthy! Thanks fro sharing. =)

    1. Amelia says:

      Hi Helene. Garden cress and watercress are related, but have different flavours (garden is more like horseradish and water more peppery) and garden cress is more sprout like. Both very good for you and delicious in soups :)

  9. annmahnet says:

    What a beautiful color! I can’t wait for watercress season again. When I was a kid, we often ate a brothy, unpuréed version of this soup at the end of dinner. With a few dried jujubes to sweeten the broth, of course!

    1. Amelia says:

      I follow the Union Square Green Market on Instagram (to torture myself by seeing what I’m missing!) and I saw they had watercress this week. Not sure jujubes were there though ;)

  10. Saskia (1=2) says:

    Yes! Bring on soup season. This looks fabulous, especially the colour! I’ve never used watercress in soup, but love the idea.

    1. Amelia says:

      If only this heat wave would move on!

      1. Saskia (1=2) says:

        Agree – it’s completely bizarre. We’re still on salads. Yearning for a bit of slow-cooking…

  11. Andy says:

    Made this the other night…delicious…and so easy to make, I’ll definitely be making this again over the coming soup season

    1. Amelia says:

      So happy you liked it Andy! Maybe you can make a thermos of it to take to the footy. It will at least provide some goodness at a Melbourne game ;)

  12. the poor man says:

    the first thing i thought when i read this recipe was how great this soup might be chilled. it sounds like all the flavors are super fresh. a small bowl served alongside a plate of smoked cheese and dried fruit could be a top-tier summer lunch.

    thanks for sharing this beautiful recipe, i’m gonna give it a go.

    1. Amelia says:

      You’re making me long for Summer! That does indeed sound like a top-tier Summer lunch – enjoy it!

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