Move over kale, there's a new powerhouse in town. Well, it's actually been around for a long time. In fact, Hippocrates built his first hospital near a natural spring because it was a natural habitat for this green. I'm talking about watercress.
What? The limp, frail little thing found in English tea sandwiches with crusts trimmed off?
Yes. It's Clark Kent before he ducked into a phone booth to morph into Superman.
Through the centuries, this peppery green was a staple for both the diets of Roman soldiers and of the poor working class in England, and then ebbed out of favor. But it's seen a recent surge in popularity. Technically it's in the same cruciferous family of kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and arugula, but packs the highest nutrition punch of all, yes even more than kale, calorie for calorie. It's great for building bones, fighting cancer, and lowering blood pressure - and 2 cups weighs in at a skinny 7 calories.
So next time you're at the market, pick some up. Chop and scramble it into some eggs, add it to salads, or sauté in olive oil, salt and pepper, to add to your next batch of brown rice.
Or, make this soup. It's a great lunch, or a starter soup served in shooter glasses for your next party. Since it's served chilled, you'll have plenty of time to whip it up a couple of days before your guests arrive.
Watercress and Buttermilk Vichyssoise
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup finely diced sweet onion
- ½ cup thinly sliced leeks – white and very very light green parts only
- 2 cups thinly sliced Yukon potatoes
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 2 cups vegetarian broth
- 3 bunches watercress leaves and stems chopped (about 6 cups, chopped)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
- pinch kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon lime juice or to taste
- Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat - I use my Le Creuset for this. Add the onion and leeks and reduce the heat to medium-low. Put a lid on the pot and cook the onions and leeks until soft - about 15 minutes. At this level of heat, it's more sweating than sautéing - be careful not to brown!
- Add the potatoes and garlic. Replace the lid to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add the broth and watercress, and bring to barely a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, and pour the soup into a blender. I use my Ninja blender for this. Purée the soup and pass through a food mill if desired. The food mill will ensure that any stems remaining are removed.
- Stir in the buttermilk, salt and pepper. The soup may taste under salted, but when chilled it will be fine. Chill for a few hours or ideally overnight before serving.
- Whip together the mascarpone cheese, salt and lime juice with a small whisk or fork. Drop a ½ teaspoon dollop of cheese on each soup shooter.