Watercress

For the longest time I confused watercress and plain old cress.  That the former was far bigger and differently shaped did not help me see my error: I just assumed it was fully grown, deformed cress.  When, whilst eating a tendril of the former in amongst other mixed leaves, I was assaulted by an overwhelming pepperiness rather than a cooling cucumbery-ness, I still did not question the relation of the two: I just thought my watercress had been tainted by some foul tasting plant!

Last year (blush) I discovered the truth.  Watercress and cress are two entirely different foods.  And, now that I know that watercress shouldn’t taste like crispy water, I no longer think it’s digusting.  Quite the opposite, in fact!  So let’s talk about watercress…

Good news:  It can be grown in the UK all year round, meaning I can enjoy a watercress sandwich in January safe in the knowledge it did not need to buy an airline ticket just to come visit me.

 Bad news:  It’s not easy to grow yourself unless you have a running stream in your garden.  Which I don’t.  :(

 Good news:  It’s chockablock full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (is the latter one of the former?). 

Bad news: Lots of people aren’t keen on it. D, for example, spat the following soup out when he tasted it.  :D

 Watercress Soup

Knob of butter

1 tblspn olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 sticks of celery, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

Glass of white wine

600 ml stock (vegetable or chicken)

200g watercress

Seasoning

Yogurt

  • Gently soften the onion, celery and garlic in the butter and oil.
  • Add the potatoes and wine and turn up the heat.  Cook until the harsh alcohol vapours disappear.
  • Add the stock and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are soft.
  • Take off the heat.  Add the watercress and blend to create a smooth, intensely green soup.
  • Season and serve with a dollop of yogurt.

 This next “recipe” was requested by a few of you earlier in the week.  I haven’t written out Cotter’s basic hummus recipe as I imagine many of you will have your own or may find it simpler to buy the hummus.

Watercress Hummus

(makes lots)

250g hummus (shop bought or make your own)

100g watercress

  • Simply whizz the watercress in a blender with a little olive oil until it is a smooth puree.
  • Stir the watercress puree through the hummus.
  • Tada!

35 thoughts on “Watercress

  1. Watercress a-go-go, here. Sadly I’m a bit like D – I don’t really the stuff but I try to choke it down a few times a year since it is good for you. The hummus combination might help improve it – what did D think of that, or was he too afraid?

  2. Lovely introduction to an interesting vegetable (is it is vegetable or a herb or a weed or something else???) I wish watercress was more available in Melbourne but I have found a great green grocers near work so will check there for it as I always come across it in recipes because have lots of british recipe books, but particularly was interested by denis cotter’s talk about it

  3. HI, American Land cress is a very good alternative – doesn’t need the flowing water but it does like cool, moist soil – readily available in Scotland. Nasturtium leaves are also peppery and you can pick them off your hanging baskets in the summer.

  4. I’m always confused about the cress and watercress too – I really need to figure it out in Estonian as well:)
    In any case – a huge thank you for the watercress hummus recipe – such a great idea!!

  5. Peter – Yup, it’s that simple. :)

    Annemarie – He gobbled that up. The watercress flavour is quite mellow.

    Johanna – I don’t really know what it is… Must look that up.

    Jane – Thank you! Will try these out later in the year.

    Cynthia – It does look lovely, I must say.

    Maryann – Awww, you’re too sweet. I really liked it but it is very strong in flavour. If you’re half hearted about watercress it might not be to your tastes. :)

    Pille – Glad I’m not the only one!!

  6. I’ve been buying watercress a lot recently too for pretty much the same reasons (it’s about the only salad leaf that isn’t airfreighted in). Just lately though (since christmas) I haven’t been able to find British watercress which is a shame :-(

    p.s some vitamins are antioxidants as are some minerals, but there are also a whole host of other antioxidants that are neither vitamin or mineral. You did ask…

  7. Just got into watercress myself a bit ago, but have only used it for salads. I cannot wait to put it in my next batch of hummus! As far as your soup, well I would bet it is lovely! Probably give it a shot myself as I am trying to do soups for lunch here at least twice a week – wonder if my guys will like it?

  8. Sarah – I did! Funnily enough, I got something similar for Christmas this year – a grasshead. It’s on my kitchen windowsill and is currently sporting a grass mohican!

    Rosie – Thank you! And you’re very welcome. :)

    Sophie – You’ve answered my question but I’m still a bit confused as to what antioxidants actually are!

    Deb – If they like watercress, I reckon they will. If they’re halfhearted about watercress, they really won’t!

  9. I had a running stream in Andorra but, as it was a mountain stream, I think it was too cold… I tried, nothing happened.
    It was great for the dogs though – fresh water all the time!

  10. Oh Wendy, I feel so guilty to admit it, being the green-lover that I am, but I just don’t like watercress. However, I sure do like looking at these pictures you’ve taken of it.

  11. Katie – Constant soggy doggies, I imagine!

    Jane – Will take a look, thank you!

    Christina – Understand why you don’t. It is a very distinctive taste. The hummus has a very delicate flavour though.

    David – Any time! :)

  12. Love the look of both of these. I think watercress is delicious. My mother makes a chilled creamy watercress soup in the summer which is really rather good. Your post reminds me that I must ask her for the recipe. I’ll be saving it for the summer though as I really don’t fancy cold soup today – it is freezing! Hummus sounds great – must give that a try too. Beautiful pictures, as always!

  13. Antonia – From what I’ve gathered from folk I know and these comments, watercress is the marmite of vegetables. You either love it or you hate it! Glad we’re in the former category!

  14. What a great watercress recipes! I just whizzed a whole bunch of watercress with other stuff to make a soup yesterday. I’m in dire need of vitamins. Unfortunately I’m suffering from a cold/cough/flu and I’m trying to do everything to get rid of it. I’ll keep your recipes in mind the next time I have a bunch of watercress in my fridge.

  15. Hi, my family, even the kids like watercress. Unfortunately, since we moved from the UK to Spain we have only been able to get like ‘week old’ stuff that looks like it’s travelled halfway round the world. However, your watercress soup recipe is one I’ve not come accross before, and we’ll be giving it a go when we find some half decent watercress!

  16. Susan – Oh, I’ve never had it with fruit before. It must work fantastically with it. Yum!

    Rkhooks – Hope you get better soon! February plus a cold sounds grim.

    Rosa – It’s pleasantly peppery, I think. :)

    Daddycook – Hello and welcome! Other than the watercress, I’m imagining you must have a great selection of local food in Spain. Hope you find some soon though.

  17. Given how healthy watercress is, my mom would brew huge vats of this soup. It’s too bad that I didn’t care for the odd texture and sour flavor. The hummus, however, is another story. I would think the nuttiness of chickpeas and tahini would create a nice balance. This I could eat!

  18. Got some watercress from our farmer’s market today and remembered the recipe for your soup. It was really delicious! Not too peppery at all, but quite mellow and unusual. My whole family loved it!

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  20. This soup is amazing. It’s even more flavoursome the day after.

    I’m trying to ward off a watercress soup obsession here!!

  21. come to think about it. . . They are acknowledged to work on the body in such an efficient method that it is only the bad cholesterol that gets removed from our body without having any type of affect on good cholesterol or Hdl cholestrerol levels.

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