Members of the Culinary Content Network highlight a peppery springtime green
English Pea, Watercress, and Mint Soup
Watercress doesn't grab a whole lot of attention compared to all the other springtime produce that's out there, but that's probably because folks aren't really sure what to do with it besides use it as a garnish. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as with this Perfect Omelette with Watercress and Roasted Mushrooms.
But with a little imagination and creativity, there's so much more you can do with it. Its leaves pack a lot of punch, with a pungent flavor and aroma similar to horseradish that chefs absolutely love.
The best watercress can be found at farmers' markets during the spring before the weather turns too warm. During this time, watercress is less bitter and has thinner stems than the kind found year-round at supermarkets.
If you're looking for an interesting alternative to arugula, this is one green that you won't want to pass up. Check out the recipes below for some great cooking ideas.
Rachel Rappaport, author of the blog Coconut & Lime, uses watercress to put a spicy twist on this delicious appetizer: Egg Salad with Watercress-Goat Cheese Spread Crispbreads. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Rappaport)
Christopher Cina developed a sublime English Pea, Watercress, and Mint Soup that takes advantage of the best spring has to offer. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Cina)
And last but not least, Kimberly Moore, who is The Hungry Goddess, has a Chicken, Watercress, and Avocado Salad that's simple, delicious, and flavorful. (Photo courtesy of Kimberly Moore)
Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.
As I mentioned in my sigeumchi namul post , n amul is the general term that refers to a seasoned vegetable side dish. An infinite number of farm-grown or wild vegetables are used to make nauml dishes in Korea. One of my favorites, which can easily be found here in America, is watercress. I love its slightly bitter and peppery flavor. When lightly cooked, watercress has that crunchy and chewy texture Korean namul is known for.
Depending on where you are, you may often find this dish among many side dishes served at Korean restaurants. It is unbelievably easy to make and loaded with nutrients. So, add this to your list of Korean side dishes!
Like spinach, watercress cooks down significantly, so double the recipe if you&rsquore serving more than 2 people or want to have some leftover for the next day. It is great in bibimbap as well.
1 bunch watercress (about 6 &ndash 8 ounces)
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)
Wash the watercress thoroughly.
Boil about 10 cups of water with 2 teaspoons of salt. Blanch the watercress until wilted, 30 &ndash 40 seconds.
Quickly remove it from the pot and shock in cold water to stop the cooking.
Drain and gently squeeze out excess water. Cut into 2 to 3-inch lengths.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix everything well, by hand. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes for the seasonings to seep into the watercress.
Whisk mustard, vinegar, and garlic in a medium bowl season with salt and pepper, then gradually stream in oil, whisking constantly. Whisk until dressing is emulsified and thick.
Add watercress to dressing, season with more salt and pepper, and gently toss until watercress is evenly coated (you want to be careful not to bruise or wilt greens when tossing, so use a light hand). Pile salad lightly onto plates.
How would you rate Watercress Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette?
Didn’t find the vinaigrette over powering at all. Used Edmund Fallot Dijon Mustard and B.R. Cohn Cabernet Vinegar
Haha no one likes the vinaigrette suck it Bon Appétite
It’s a bit tart for sure but I thoroughly enjoyed this! I had made this for lunch accompanied with a small tin of tuna and fresh baguette. Yum! Would definitely make this again.
Wow, that's sour! I used pomegranate red wine vinegar. Was that a mistake? Thinking about how to sweeten this up just a touch. I like watercress and mustard, but it's sour on sour.
Recipes you want to make. Cooking advice that works. Restaurant recommendations you trust.
Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, 5–6 minutes. Add broth and potatoes bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add watercress to pot stir until leaves wilt. Let soup cool briefly. Working in batches, purée soup in a blender until smooth. Return soup to same pot. Stir in 1½ tsp. lemon juice. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.
Whisk cream with a pinch of salt in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Fold in 1½ Tbsp. chives.
Rewarm soup gently over low heat. Divide soup among demitasse or small teacups and garnish each cup with a dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp. chives over.
How would you rate Watercress Soup?
While I respect bon appétit I was going to sign up but when I saw the watercress soup recipe asked for 2 pounds of water crest I thought somebody was smoking something to pounds of water quest is the equivalent of one garbage bag full of water crest
Since I am a diabetic, I made this with white sweet potatoes. It is very good, and white sweets are even more full of good stuff than white Irish potatoes. No chives, no cream, still great. Also asI am lazy I merely cut the onion up in a cursory manner and whizzed it up with the hand blender (those are a great aid to the lazy and to those onions give sinus torture
I was writing a review of this recipe last night, and somehow it came out anonymous, which I hate, so I'll try it again. The recipe inspired me to make watercress soup - I had too much watercress in the house - but to make it differently. I cut up three onions, and roasted them briefly, then added some garlic and some whole wheat pastry flour, as well as some cut-up chilis and a jalapeno pepper, gradually adding some home made vegetable broth, and the potatoes (I used young, red skin potatoes I did not have to peel), and for the rest I finished it pretty much as per the recipe, except leaving out all dairy. The tastes of the vegetables just come out better when you leave out the oil and the animal products. People will come back for more. Instead of the whipped cream, I used some chia seeds. Your heart (and your stomach) will thank you.
This recipe was useful to me, except that as written it is the nutritional equivalent of a hydrogen bomb, so I rewrote it without the fat and other dairy products, and made it a bit spicier with some chilis and some jalapenos, and about double the amount of onions, and it came out fantastic..
Watercress isn’t just a healthy addition to your salad—it’s kind of a rock star in the vegetable world.
In 2014, researchers at William Paterson University put together a list of 41 “powerhouse fruits and vegetables” ranked by the amount of fiber, potassium, protein, calcium, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D, and other nutrients they contain.
The leafy green veggie topped the list with a perfect score of 100.
Though the ability to describe why watercress is so darn good for us is relatively new, the knowledge isn’t: The Persian King Xerxes ordered his soldiers eat the vegetable for its health benefits during his reign from 486 B.C.E to 465 B.C.E.
Here are a few nutritional highlights of the superfood:
- One cup of watercress provides more than 100% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin K, which is essential to bone health.
- Low in calories and high in nutrients, watercress is considered an extremely nutrient-dense food and may aid in weight loss.
- Since it’s packed with powerful antioxidants, watercress could help lower your risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
- The vegetable’s high vitamin C content gives your immune system a necessary boost during cold and flu season.
In season: watercress
Vegetables: arugula, Asian greens, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, chard, collards, endive, frisee, herbs, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, peanuts, radishes, rutabaga, spinach, spring onions, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter squash
John Jerauld and his mother Carol are partners in Mama J’s Produce in Cartersville. The Mama J’s booth can be found on Saturday mornings at the Marietta Square Farmers Market, and during the spring through fall farmers market season on Sundays at The Chattanooga Market, the Tuesday morning Kennesaw Farmers Market and Friday’s Acworth Farmers Market. They also sell their produce to metro Atlanta restaurants such as Livingston at the Georgian Terrace and Haven.
When you visit their booth this winter, they might be selling spinach, turnips, radishes, carrots or one or more of the three kinds of kale they grow. But they definitely will have lettuce, arugula and watercress, all grown hydroponically.
“Lettuce is our bread and butter and makes up about 80 percent of what we grow. We’ll have roughly 13,000 lettuce plants growing at any time. But we also consistently grow two to three hundred watercress plants,” said Jerauld.
The Jeraulds started their business five years ago with a large greenhouse. They just began growing watercress last summer after repeated requests from their farmers market customers. “We’re always looking to grow something new. After a while, all that lettuce gets boring,” he said.
Watercress has been a very successful crop for them. They start the tiny seeds in a horticultural mineral fiber called Rockwool. “It’s like firm cotton candy, a long fibrous tube that holds a lot of water but also allows the plant roots to get plenty of oxygen. After about 12 days, the plants are big enough to go into hydroponic channels.”
The greenhouse is filled with rows of long food-grade plastic channels, each with holes at 4-inch intervals. Plants go in according to their growth habit – lettuce every 8 inches, watercress every 4 inches. Water moves constantly along the roots. Growing plants hydroponically requires a large initial investment in the set up, but the Jeraulds have found it’s easy to maintain. “Week after week, we plant seed, transplant into the channels, pick the plants, clean the channels and then do it all over again.”
And their customers love the clean results. “Most of our customers are people who come back every week or every other week and they are always telling us how long our produce stays fresh. They love that it needs very little washing.”
To keep the watercress fresh at home, Jerauld suggests the same method that works for most leafy greens. “You can pull off the leaves and put them in a plastic container with a damp paper towel, then refrigerate. For most greens, keeping them fresh is about keeping the right level of humidity and temperature.”
Watercress is a plant that roots easily, putting out roots all along the stem. “Where it touches a damp surface or the growing medium, it will sprout a root.” He says you can take advantage of that characteristic to grow a little watercress at home by trimming most of the leaves off your watercress stems and then putting the stems in a cup of water. “Be sure you keep them in plenty of water because that’s what they’re used to.”
And he notes that his customers appreciate what’s being touted as the overwhelming nutritional benefits of watercress. A recent CDC study ranking more than 40 fruits and vegetables for their nutritional benefits labeled watercress as the top “powerhouse” vegetable in the group, outranking other powerhouse vegetables such as spinach and kale.
Seed’s Watercress Salad
Doug Turbush, chef and owner of Seed Kitchen & Bar and Stem Wine Bar in Marietta, provided this recipe full of Spanish influence. It’s a watercress salad that is served from time to time at the wine bar.
“Watercress has a unique texture among salad greens. It offers a subtle crunch along with a light peppery flavor that picks up other flavors well. The first time I had Manchego cheese paired with membrillo, it blew my mind and was the inspiration behind the salad,” he wrote when he sent the recipe.
Membrillo is quince paste, and as Turbush notes, marries well with the Manchego, a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese, and the Marcona almonds, a sweet Spanish almond. All are available in cheese and other specialty food shops.
4 cups loosely packed watercress, leaves picked off stems and rinsed
1/2 cup roughly chopped Marcona almonds
1/4 cup membrillo, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup Sherry Vinaigrette (see recipe)
1 1/2 ounces shaved Manchego (about 6 tablespoons)
In a large bowl, combine watercress, almonds and membrillo. Toss lightly with vinaigrette and divide between serving plates. Top with Manchego and serve immediately.
Per serving: 227 calories (percent of calories from fat, 74), 7 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 20 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 10 milligrams cholesterol, 67 milligrams sodium.
Any extra vinaigrette would not only be delicious on a salad, but could also be used as a sauce on steamed vegetables or baked or pan-fried fish or chicken breasts.
1/2 cup Spanish sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
In a medium bowl, whisk together sherry vinegar, honey, shallot, champagne vinegar and mustard. Slowly whisk in vegetable oil and olive oil. Taste for seasoning. Makes: 1 3/4 cups
Per 1-tablespoon serving: 86 calories (percent of calories from fat, 85), trace protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, 8 grams fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 7 milligrams sodium.
What to do with watercress
Watercress isn't just for salads. Carol Wilson celebrates the unique taste of this versatile seasonal vegetable.
I’m all for using seasonal British foods. Apart from the issue of food miles, eating foods grown on our doorstep is much better for us, as they’re more in tune with nature and are tastier and fresher.
Watercress is in season from April to September and although it’s usually relegated to a measly garnish on the plate, I look upon it as a delicious and health-giving vegetable in its own right. I use the hot peppery leaves to add a kick to salads their pungent flavour also makes flavoursome soups, sauces and flavoured butters and goes particularly well with eggs.
The hot peppery taste comes from the mustard oil in the plant and its strong flavour stimulates the taste buds and digestion. Young leaves contain less mustard oil and so have a milder flavour.
Curiously the peppery taste of watercress has a cooling effect, a paradox that was noted by the celebrated 14th century French chef Taillevent, who was also the first person to include it on a menu. He prepared a lavish banquet and served watercress after the fourth course, writing on the menu ‘Watercress, served alone to refresh the mouth’.
Hippocrates the ‘father of medicine’ opened what was probably the world’s first hospital near to wild watercress growing in a stream, so that he could use the watercress to treat his patients. In fact watercress is one of the most nutritious vegetables and is a rich source of vitamins and essential minerals. That’s why the French call their watercress soup potage de santé or ‘healthy soup’.
It’s not a good idea to eat watercress found growing in the wild though, as it’s likely to be polluted and may carry liver fluke. Cultivated watercress is grown on washed gravel and nourished with pure fresh spring water.
My favourite way of enjoying watercress is in a sandwich made with good quality bread generously spread with butter and packed with plenty of crisp, fresh watercress. In Germany watercress is eaten with meats, sausages and smoked fish. I like to serve watercress with sea trout or salmon, where its refreshing flavour is the perfect complement to the rich tasting fish.
Soup Season - Watercress Soup Recipes From Around The world
As the final grinning pumpkin is put in the re-cycling and the tang of gunpowder dissipates into the night sky, there’s no denying it’s soup season. The chance to blend together some of nature’s finest seasonal goodies into a warming, wholesome dish that can be served in a bowl or poured into a mug to warm the hands as well as the heart!
Watercress soup has always been a firm favourite with many a celebrity chef coming up with their own version of the classic: Mary Berry, Raymond Blanc, Gordon Ramsey to name a few, not to mention Princess Diana and Liz Hurley who found it crucial in keeping her hourglass figure. The Watercress Company even has a Watercress Soup Diet guaranteed to help you drop the pounds as its the #1 nutrient dense vegetable based on calories.
Scan the internet and you’ll easily find any number of recipes that use watercress as a base for a tasty, extremely healthy soup. Here are some of our favourites including one from Italy and one from New Zealand to show watercress soup’s international appeal. One thing they all share is that brilliant vibrant green colour, bright enough to light up the dark days of winter.
Michelin star chef Stephen Harris shares his Watercress Soup with an Oyster guaranteed to put a smile on your face! In a recent paper published by the Journal of World Psychiatry scientists came up with a list of foods that are ‘the most dense sources of nutrients to play a role in the prevention and recovery from depressive disorders.’ In their Antidepressant Food Scale watercress scored highest out of both plant and animal sources while oysters were the highest scoring non-plant source. A Happy soup - who could ask for more!
Enjoy the crunch of radish contrasting with the smoothness of the soup in this delicious Watercress and Radish creation from Beverley Hicks.
Next up a delicious Spinach and Watercress Soup from the grande dame of Italian cooking, Anna del Conte. The Italians know a thing or two about healthy eating with the Mediterranean diet and here are two of the most healthy vegetables around combined into a superfood delight!
Sam Mannering shows how it’s made ‘down-under’ with a Watercress & Kumara Soup. Known elsewhere in the world as sweet potatoes, kumara replace the standard white potato used in classic watercress recipes to add extra sweetness.
There are hundreds more varieties of watercress soup out there! If you’d like to share your family recipe we’d love to hear from you. Meanwhile, for inspiration take a look at some of the soups our development chef has come up with.
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 large white potato (12 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (2 cups)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 bunches (14 ounces total) watercress, thick stems trimmed, coarsely chopped
- Lemon wedges, for serving
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil and garlic, cook until sizzling and fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in potato and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook 1 minute.
Add stock and 1 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in watercress. Return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among soup bowls and squeeze a lemon wedge into each bowl. Serve immediately.
FAQS About This Recipe
Typically you can find watercress being sold at most Asian supermarkets. They are usually sold in the vegetable section and are pretty cheap to buy.
The best thing about this soup is that it is incredibly versatile. Meaning if you want to add more ingredients, then you are certainly free to do so. Vice-versa if you are wanting to use less ingredients, you can do so as well.
Typically the longer you cook the vegetables, the softer they become. In this recipe, we will cook the vegetables for about 20 minutes so that the carrots and mushrooms will be able to be soft enough to eat. Only the last 10 minutes should you put in the watercress as if you put it in too early, it will overcook and won’t be as good anymore.