The Cottage Smallholder

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Recipe for Fiona’s fabulous watercress soup

Photo of our delicious watercress soup recipe in a bowl with a swirl of cream

Photo: Watercress soup in a bowl with a swirl of cream is a delicious recipe

Watercress is packed with vitamins (A, C and K). It is a great source of iron, calcium and is full of beneficial chemicals such as glucosinates. It’s also quite pricey to buy, so when I saw a couple of packs reduced to 20p on the Tesco *CFC, I grabbed them with a chortle. Most summers we grow our own watercress in pots in a shady area of the garden but our plants are still babies at the moment. If you like watercress it’s well worth growing your own. You can see how to grow watercress at home and an update here.

The secret to the deeply satisfying taste of this soup is the fact that the main ingredients – the continental salad onions, watercress and garlic are sweated for a decent amount of time. This releases a far more intense flavour than just simmering them. Potatoes are kept to a minimum as their main job here is to thicken the soup and soften the flavours a little.

Sniffing about on the Internet, I’ve discovered that top chefs add a wide range of extra vegetables to watercress soup. Delia adds leeks, Raymond Blanc adds spinach. In this recipe I concentrated on enhancing the delicious flavour of watercress. It’s quite a thick soup so could be thinned with a little extra stock, depending on taste.

Soup is a great way of pleasurably consuming vegetables and, if served as a starter, makes the more expensive ingredients of a main course stretch a little further as the soup has dented the appetite. Soup is generally a doddle to make and if you don’t add cream it freezes well.

This recipe tastes equally good hot or chilled on a summer’s day. Easy, chic comfort food.

Recipe for Fiona’s fabulous watercress soup
Recipe Type: Starter or Lunch
Author: Fiona Nevile
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Serves: 3
Watercress is relatively expensive. So keep this recipe in mind if you ever see special offers or discounted packs. It really is a most delicious and satisfying soup.
  • 30g (1 oz) of butter
  • 100g (3 to 4 oz) = approx 2 x chunky continental salad/spring onions – chop the entire onions including the green tops
  • 1 large clove of garlic chopped fine
  • 170g (6 oz) of watercress – remove only the really thick stalks – washed and left in cold water
  • 170g (6 oz) of potatoes – peeled and sliced
  • 230ml (N America 1 cup) of hot vegetable stock – we mix in 1 teaspoon of Marigold vegetable stock powder
  • Salt and ground white pepper to taste
  • Double cream (optional)
  1. Melt the butter gently in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the onions and the garlic. Let this sweat for ten minutes – lid on/gentle heat.
  3. Don’t drain the watercress. Treat it like you would spinach and add it to the saucepan with the water that is clinging to the leaves.
  4. Stir well and leave to sweat for five minutes or so until the watercress has wilted and darkened.
  5. Add the finely sliced potato and the hot vegetable stock.
  6. Bring to simmering point and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potato has softened – lid on.
  7. Liquidize the soup – a stick blender is perfect for this and much less hassle than a liquidizer. Be careful not to burn yourself with the hot soup.
  8. Serve in warm bowls with (optional) a dash of cream and a sprinkle of watercress leaves.

This soup tastes great without the cream too.

*CFC Condemned Food Counter. Our fun name for the discounted items shelves.

  Leave a reply


  1. Another soup recipe for my collection.. my fave of yours being the left over stilton and broccoli. Yum!

  2. Michelle/Mickle in NZ

    This looks and reads to be delicious. If you have any left over at its original thickness you can always devour it cold as a dip with whatever are your favourite foody things to “dip into a dip”.

  3. Margaret

    Thank you for this – I was about to pull up and compost last year’s Land Cress but I shall now use it up in soup!
    I am sure my soup won’t be as tasty as yours but I do hate to waste anything that I have taken the trouble to grow.
    Also, thanks for posting a vegetarian recipe.

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