Watercress grows in all our West Dorset Rivers and is exactly the same as the bunches of watercress we buy from the greengrocers. But please don’t pick the wild watercress because it may contain the “common liver fluke” Fasciola Hepatica, which is a parasite that as its name suggests, attacks the liver! It is only advisable to pick if the water source is a straight from a spring or fresh from the mountain and we don’t have many mountains in Dorset!!
Watercress has a noticeable peppery flavour and is the perfect sandwich filler, salad ingredient and garnish. It also makes a super fresh bright green peppery soup – if you make it right! This soup can be served as a starter or as a refreshing appetiser.
This recipe comes from Raymond Blanc and uses no stock to flavour the soup, because there should be enough flavour from the watercress. He also uses an interesting technique of adding ice cubes to stop the cooking and preserve the vivid colours of the watercress.
50g onion, finely chopped
20g unsalted butter
200g/2 bunches watercress, weigh after the stalks have been removed
50g spinach, washed
375ml boiling water
4 pinches sea salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
Gentle sweat the onion in the salted butter for a couple of minutes – do not let it brown
Add the watercress & a pinch of salt and sweat for 30 seconds
Add the spinach and cook until wilted
Pour in the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes
Remove from heat and tip in the ice and stir until melted
Liquidise the soup until smooth
To serve: gentle reheat your soup and season to taste. Pour into your bowls and stir in (more like dollop in) crème fraîche. You can also add a squeeze of lemon and/or pureed garlic.