Watercress and Lemon Soup
I never use flour to thicken a soup, and this is no exception - hence the potato in this recipe. This soup is as good served cold as it is hot.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, skinned and chopped
2 medium-large potatoes, peeled and diced quite small
1 1/2 pints/855ml good stock, either vegetable or chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
a good grinding of black pepper
a grating of nutmeg
finely grated rind of 1 lemon - wash the lemon well and dry it before grating
4oz/110g watercress - this will look a lot, but it whizzes right down when liquidised
6 thin slices of lemon, to garnish, whether the soup is served hot or cold
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the chopped onions and potatoes together for several minutes, over moderate heat, stirring from time to time so that the vegetables fry evenly. Cook until the onions are quite transparent and starting to turn golden at the edges - this will take between ten and 15 minutes. Then add the stock and simmer the contents of the pan until the largest bit of potato squishes against the side of the pan with the back of your wooden spoon. Take the pan off the heat and add salt, pepper and nutmeg, and the grated lemon rind. Cool, before liquidising with the raw watercress. Either reheat to serve, or serve cold, with a thin slice of lemon floating on top.
Watercress and lime mousse
SERVES 6 TO 8
1 pint/570ml good chicken stock
1 1/2 sachets gelatine
5oz/150g watercress, stalks and all
freshly grated rind and juice of 1 lime
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
a dash of Tabasco
14oz/400g crème fraîche
2 egg whites
Measure half the stock into a saucepan and warm gently. When the stock is hot - but not boiling - sprinkle in the gelatine and shake the pan carefully till the gelatine dissolves completely. Put the watercress into a processor with the rest of the stock and whiz till liquidised. In a bowl, mix together the watercress stock and the dissolved gelatine, then stir in the grated lime rind, juice and seasoning. Leave till it is beginning to gel - you can speed this by putting the bowl into a washing-up bowl containing water and ice cubes; stir the watercress mixture to prevent a solid jelly forming at the bottom. It gels quite quickly, especially if it is in a metal bowl, so when just gelling remove the bowl from the ice cubes and fold in the crème fraîche. In a separate bowl whisk the whites till very stiff, and, using a large metal spoon, fold them quickly and thoroughly through the watercress and crème fraîche mixture. Pour into a glass or china serving bowl or, if you want to turn out individual mousses, divide between lightly oiled ramekins. Cover with clingfilm and keep in the fridge till you are ready to eat.
Watercress and Shallot Sauce
4 shallots, skinned and very finely chopped
1/2 stick of celery, trimmed of stringy bits and sliced thinly
1/2 pint/285ml chicken stock
5fl oz/140ml single cream
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sauté the shallots and celery in the butter for three or four minutes, then pour in the stock and simmer till the amount has reduced by half.
Put the contents of the saucepan into a blender and whiz, gradually adding the watercress - raw - and the single cream. Add the sugar (most important) and taste, adding salt and pepper as you like. Reheat gently, but take care not to let the sauce boil.