I love the peppery bite of watercress, in salads, on sandwiches, and very much in soup, where it tastes like spring, mmm. Oh, I know that we are very, very, very (sigh) far from spring (in this neck of the woods, anyhow), but what better reason to slurp a breath-of-fresh-air little soup-tasty, spring-inspired but still completely cozy, creamy, and warm? I’ve included a recipe from the lovely Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook, by Suzanne Goin, perfectly appropriate since it’s, well, Sunday, and you might be looking for an idea for, well, supper! And since watercress (and other fresh herbs) are now available year-round at almost every grocery store, why the heck not? So here it is…McGrath Farms’ Watercress Soup with Gentleman’s Relish Toast – crispy, salty anchovy-toasts afloat in a classic,creamy watercress soup. Delightful. To be really decadent, grill up a few small, crusty lamb rib chops and eat ’em right off the bone as a little appetizer. Lick your fingers. Sip a Pinot Noir. Savor your creamy, peppery soup. Lick the spoon. Nibble a piece of soft cheese with slices of ripe pear for dessert. Kiss your sweetie. Ouch. Man, if that won’t chase away the January blues, I don’t know what will. (Recipe posted in comments, below.)
Oh wait, yes I do! A girlie, giggly late-afternoon cruise with Suz and Kim! Yes, one more birthday celebration (tee hee) coming up later today. A long, lazy drive over to St. Paul, along the creek, over the river, down stately Summit Ave, ending at Sweeney’s Saloon. Yep, I chose a burger-beer outing to celebrate with my minxes, followed by a long-overdue Feminine Hijinx session. We have yet to podcast in Suz’s new home! No more sipping wine and cackling from the “naughty pine,” sniff, we’ll have to rechristen our new recording space. Stay tuned…
McGrath Farms’ Watercress Soup with Gentleman’s Relish Toast
Adapted from Sunday Supper at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
7 Tbsp. butter
1 c. sliced white onion plus 2 cups diced white onions
2 leeks, whites only, cliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 chile de arbol, crumbled (substitute 1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, to your taste)
¼ bunch fresh thyme
¼ bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsely, plus 2 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
5 c. chopped watercress (about 2 bunches)
2 Tbsp. minced chives (or scallion greens)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
1 c. heavy cream
Gentleman’s relish on toast (recipe follows)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large pot over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add 4 Tbsp. butter, and when it foams, add the sliced onion, leeks, carrot, and celery. Stir to coat with the butter, and season with 1 Tbsp. salt and some pepper. Cook 5 minutes and add the chile, thyme, and parsley sprigs. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are just starting to caramelize.
Add 10 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down and simmer (uncovered) 30 minutes. Strain the stock, discard the vegetables, and set the stock aside.
Return the pot to medium heat for 2 minutes. Add 3 Tbsp. butter, and when it foams, add the diced onions, cayenne, 1 tsp. salt, and a healthy grind of pepper. Cook the onions about 5 minutes, stirring often, until they’re translucent and tender. Add the vegetable stock, turn the heat up to high, and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cream and keep warm.
You will need to puree the soup in batches (Stephanie's note: it took me three batches in my blender). Place 1/3 the herbs (watercress, chives, chopped parsley, chopped parsley, and tarragon) in the blender. Ladle 1½ c. of the hot stock over the greens. Cover tightly, and carefully start the blender at the lowest possible speed. When the mixture is pureed, add another cup of the stock and turn the blender up to high. Add more stock, until the soup is a little thicker than heavy cream. Run the blender at high for 1 minute to ensure the soup is very smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning. Add a little squeeze of lemon juice if you like. At this point, the soup’s consistency should be that of heavy cream.
Set the first batch of soup aside, and repeat the process two more times with the remaining watercress, herbs, stock, and cream.
Ladle soup into bowls, float toasts on top, and serve.
Gentleman’s Relish on Toasts
¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 tsp. minced anchovy (anchovy paste in a tube works great)
2 tsp. finely diced shallot
1 tsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. lemon zest
healthy pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp. minced flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. minced chives (or scallion greens)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the baguette on the diagonal into twelve ¼-inch-thick slices. (You may have leftover bread.) Brush both sides of each slice generously with olive oi., about ¼ c. in all. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden and crispy but still tender in the center. Let cool.
Combine the butter, anchovy, shallot, lemon juice, zest, cayenne pepper, parsley, and chives in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
When the toasts have cooled, spread them with gentleman’s relish.
Hi Lisa! Love to hear that you're diggin' the veggie soup. Thanks!!!!!
Suz, that picture of you rawks, especially the little tear in the corner of your eye from you laughing so hard! LOVE it!
I sure do love that photo of me...!!!!!!! ;-0 hilarious.
You are right on with the soup, but I decided to make your Hearty Vegetable soup, using a broasted chicken. YUM! We love this soup! And what a better night to make it.