A few years ago my mom attended Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork, Ireland. My brother, Freddie and I got the opportunity to go out and visit her for a week. It was an amazing experience.
The Ballymaloe Cookery School is located in the middle of a 100 acre organic farm. Which means nearly everything they cook, from poultry to vegetables is raised on the property. This idea of farm fresh is what the school’s philosophy is based upon. They believe that the finest foods come from the freshest ingredients. And I would have to agree.
My mom has always been a wonderful cook, but prior to taking this course she was self-taught. Throughout her 12 week course, she learned everything she ever needed to know about food. From setting a table, to preparing a duck leg roast, and everything in-between, my mom came home with a slew of knowledge. My favorite part of her schooling was of course the amazing recipes she picked up along the way.
For Easter that year my mom made an incredible spread featuring the new recipes she had learned at school. This watercress soup was the first course. I had never had watercress before but I have to say I have been hooked ever since. When I saw the fresh bunch of watercress in my box yesterday I was pumped! I immediately emailed my mom for the recipe. And I am thrilled to share it all with you.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cups onion
1 cup potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups whole milk
1 large bunch or 1/2 lb watercress (coarse stalks removed)
Crème fraîche and sprig of herb for garnish
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. When it begins to foam add the potatoes and onions, season with salt and pepper. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Leave to sweat on very low heat for about 10 minutes while you prepare the watercress.
2. Remove the lid, check if the onions and potatoes are almost soft but not colored, then add the stock and milk. Bring to a boil and cook until the onions and potatoes are tender.
3. Add the watercress and boil uncovered for about 4-5 minutes until watercress is cooked. Be careful not to overcook or the soup will lose its fresh green color.
4. Pour the soup into a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
5. Garnish with a dollop of crème fraîche and sprig of herb and serve.
Recipe slightly adapted from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cooking School Cookbook
Not only is this soup delicious but it is nutritious. Watercress is one of the most nourishing and medicinally powerful vegetables. It is packed with more calcium than milk, is a better source of Vitamin C than an orange and boasts a higher content of iron than spinach. It puts the super in superfood!
Fun fact: Legend has it that St. Brendan, one of the 12 Apostles of Ireland, lived to be 180 thanks to his daily diet of watercress. So if you want to live a long and healthy life, eat this soup. You can thank me later :)