This evening I made a dieter’s dream version of one of my all time favorite soups, watercress and cream. I’ve made it once before, here, but this version is just as tasty with more benefits and less calories. To substitute for cream, cauliflower makes a surprisingly smooth base. Potatoes also help eliminate dairy from the recipe, but unfortunately, they are extremely high in carbohydrates. In this recipe I leave out the potatoes and add in some leeks. I also doubled the amount of watercress I normally use.
A member of the mustard family, watercress is one of the most ancient leafy greens around, dating back more than three millenia. Hippocrates, the sage healer responsible for his iconic advice to “let food by thy medicine” was particularly fond of watercress as a natural cure all. It has more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk and three times more vitamin E than lettuce. It is extremely detoxifying for the blood, anti inflammatory, and can aid in treating cold symptoms. You can read all sorts of whacky and useful facts about watercress here. Watercress tastes crisp and slightly spicy. I find it has a very unique and subtle flavor. The whole peppercorns in this soup pair nicely with the watercress. When the soup is blended the peppercorns will be broken up into tiny chunks, just big enough for an occasional nibble here and there. You can add ground pepper at the end if you want more kick.
Vegan Watercress and Leek Soup
what you need:
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1 small yellow (not sweet) onion, chopped
- 2 bunches of leeks (should be three stalks per bunch), chopped with dark green part removed.
- 2 bunches of watercress
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorn
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbl. grapeseed oil
- 8 cups of water
what you do:
In a large soup pot, add grapeseed oil with onions, garlic and leeks. (Leeks are always packed with muddy slush, so make sure you was them very well before using. Only use the bottom white part of the leeks.) Eventually, everything will get blended, so don’t worry about cutting your vegetables too precisely. Add in thyme and whole peppercorns and saute on medium high heat until onions and leeks become tender, about 5-8 minutes. Add in your cauliflower, chopped into large florets. Again, everything will go in the blender, so don’t waste time with perfect, small cuts. Add 8 cups of water and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until cauliflower is very tender. About 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, wash your watercress well. I usually let mine soak in cold water while I’m prepping the rest of the soup. De-stem as much as you care to (watercress leaves are small, so I do a crude job at de-stemming to save time) and set aside.
In a high speed blender (I love the vita mix) add half of the soup with half of the watercress and puree. Repeat with the rest of the soup (it won’t all fit in the blender at once). Return pureed soup to pot and simmer on low heat for another 5 minutes or so, stirring to make sure both batches are incorporated into each other. Let cool before eating. As the soup cools it thickens which gives it more of a creamy texture. Add extra salt or pepper to taste. Personally, I think this soup is extra delicious the next day. Makes 14 cups.
If you’re not on a diet I highly recommend these variations:
- Drizzle truffle oil over your individual bowl of soup – divine!
- Top with a dollop of sour cream
- Top with a few crumbles of soft goat cheese
Do you eat watercress? Share some of your favorite watercress recipes below and let me know how the soup turns out!
peace, love, and leafy greens,