I am rediscovering my love of watercress. It was my favourite green vegetable in my college years. Every week I would make one of my three watercress dishes. 1. Pasta with watercress arugola and goat cheese 2. Tomato soup with watercress 3. Watercress and arugula salad with sun dried tomatoes and marinated artichoke hearts. I ate all of these three dishes way to often to revive them (even after over 15 years)…okay I’ll still eat the pasta dish when I get really busy. Lately though, I have been making some new recipes hat make good use of the fresh and peppery flavour of watercress.
This vichyssoise is based on this recipe. Buttermilk and watercress balance each other out beautifully. I used ramps instead of leeks and garlic because they are in season and delicious. I used russet instead of white potatoes because I always have them in my pantry. I used some experimental, economical vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. If you go the vegetable stock route just make sure that it is a pale stock, since anything with a very dark color will spoil the lovely light green of the soup. If you don’t have buttermilk use a good tart, plain yogurt and a bit of lemon juice!
If you are interested in acquiring exceptionally beautiful watercress and live in NYC, the green market at Union Square has really pretty bunches with the roots still on these days. The tastiest watercress though, is the wild stuff sold at the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket in Brooklyn. However, since the watercress gets pureed in this soup, it is fine to use the cheap little bunches that are often available at corner groceries sitting on a pile of crushed ice. The corner store bunches have usually been so manhandled that they make a very sad looking salad, but they are just fine in this soup and you cannot beat the price!
WATERCRESS AND BUTTERMILK VICHYSSOISE
- 3 tablespoons of butter or olive oil
- 4 ramps, sliced (green onion or leeks would also work, just add some garlic as well)
- 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 4 cups of homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 3 cups watercress, cleaned and trimmed of the thick stems
- 2 cups buttermilk (or tart yogurt with a bit of lemon juice)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the butter or oil in a soup pot over medium, low heat. Add the ramps (or green onions and garlic).
- When the ramps are soft, but not browned, add the potatoes and stock, increase the hear and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat a bit and simmer until the potatoes are soft.
- Let the soup cool completely before adding the watercress. Puree the mixture until it is totally smooth. Add the buttermilk and season with salt and pepper. Serve this soup chilled and garnished with some smoked fish and/or boiled quails eggs, if you are lucky enough to have some!
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