Recipe: Maman Blanc’s Watercress Soup

PUBLISHED: 09:23 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:23 24 March 2020

Raymond Blanc and a bowl of Maman Blanc's Watercress Soup (c) Phil James

Raymond Blanc and a bowl of Maman Blanc's Watercress Soup (c) Phil James

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Pep up your lunch with this simple, fresh soup from Raymond Blanc

“I was taught this dish by my mother,” says French chef Raymond Blanc.

Maman never used stock for soups, she followed her belief that the main ingredients should provide enough flavour, so this recipe is no exception to that rule.

“Today, the gardeners grow watercress at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in polytunnels to provide the kitchen and The Raymond Blanc Cookery School with the freshest ingredients.

“This simple soup brings out all the qualities of watercress; fresh, tangy and peppery. It can be made one day in advance, but it is always better when it is made just before serving.”

Serves eight

Raymond Blanc at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons (c) Paul WilkinsonRaymond Blanc at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons (c) Paul Wilkinson

Ingredients

20g/1 tbsp butter, unsalted

100g/½ onion, finely chopped

400g/4 large bunches watercress, stalks removed

100g/1 handful spinach, washed and picked

8g/8 pinches sea salt

1g/2 pinches pepper, black, freshly ground

750ml water, boiling

750ml ice

Method

Maman Blanc's Watercress Soup from Recipes to Remember (c) Phil JamesMaman Blanc's Watercress Soup from Recipes to Remember (c) Phil James

On a low heat, sweeten the onion in the butter until softened and translucent. Turn up the heat, add the watercress and spinach and wilt for two minutes. Add the water (boiling), season with the sea salt and pepper, and quick boil for two minutes. Add the ice to stop the cooking and blend in a liquidiser until very smooth.

Reheat, taste and correct the seasoning if required. Serve immediately, piping hot, in a large soup tureen.

Variations

Raymond says: “As a good Frenchman, I would be tempted to add a clove of pureed garlic or flakes of toasted garlic to the soup.

A tablespoon of Greek yoghurt would be a nice addition. A squeeze of lemon juice added at the last moment would heighten the flavour of the watercress, but add at the last minute or it will discolour the watercress.”

Chef’s notes

According to the variety, the watercress may vary in its strength of flavour. If your watercress is very peppery, cut off the entire stalk, but if it is mild, keep some of the stalk.

The boiling water speeds up the making of the soup and retains the colour and flavour of the watercress.

The ice stops the cooking, which will keep the vivid colour, the flavour and the nutrients. Reheat the soup at the last moment for the same reasons.

Taken from Recipes to Remember, created by Kelly James and Natasha Willmore. RRP £20. Photography by Phil James.

All profit from the cookbook will be donated to Maggie’s charity. maggiescookbook.com

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