You can count on the smell of this glorious soup wafting through the kitchen in every household in Northern France, at some point during the winter.
My Mémé made this on a number of occasions and every time I taste the first spoonful, I’m transported back to being 8 years old and sitting in her white tiled kitchen with its large farmhouse sink, in love with her delectable cooking and warm embrace.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard of watercress before, have never had it or think you might have and don’t think you like it. I have served this to my Father-in-Law who A) doesn’t like soup and B) doesn’t like anything but hamburgers, steaks and potatoes and he brought home all that was leftover in the pot.
This is wondrous. Just wondrous.
And is simple to make. And takes about 1 hour, start to finish.
The blessed trinity of a food dish, amazing taste, ease of execution and done in a flash!
Let the savory adventure begin!
You will be searching for 2 bags of watercress, about 8 ounces in total. They usually come packaged as 4 ounce bags. They’ll most likely appear in the bagged lettuces and spinach section of the grocery store.
Open the bags and as you would with spinach, snap off the woody stems, until you’re left with this beautiful pile of them.
You will need 2 red potatoes, medium-sized,
peeled and chopped.
In a large saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons salted butter, over medium-low heat.
Add the potatoes,
a pinch of salt,
and a pinch of pepper.
Cut a piece of parchment paper about the size of the lid of the pot.
Place the lid over the parchment paper and cut around the lid, leaving about 1/2 inch of overhang.
Butter the round of wax paper,
till it looks shiny and pretty.
Place the buttered side of the wax paper facing down into the pot of goodies and place the lid on top of it. (Not looking as pretty here, let me tell you! Looks a bit suspicious and if anyone comes over during this cooking process, I guarantee that you’re the talk of the town…”she mixes up all types of things in those potions she makes in that cauldron of hers; leaves, paper…”)
Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add 6 tablespoons of flour,
and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes.
Add 6 cups of Chicken broth and
bring to a boil, simmer and stir occasionally, for another 15 minutes.
Placing a dish towel over the top of the blender before turning it on, purée the soup in batches,
return it to the pot. Continue until you have this gorgeous color and texture, making sure not to purée all of the potatoes so that you get little bits in every bowl of soup!
Add 1 cup of heavy cream, taste it, and add salt (slowly, tasting between each addition) and pepper to taste.
Cook over medium-low heat until heated through, stirring.
Serve your “witches’ brew” to the townspeople and really give them something to talk about!
Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!