Watercress Soup


Nonna Margherita Dottorelli in her kitchen, 1905

Some excellent Tuscan recipes from her granddaughter, Marta Dottorelli, who refuses to be just a character in a novel called The Whirling Girl, made up by that writer.

Today, Zuppa di Crescione, Watercress Soup

When the beautiful Signora Chiara (whose house I take care of) was painting in the hills this morning, I took my motorino through the woods to the pool by the waterfall where recently she swam naked with the British archaeologist.
She does not know I know this.
Beh! There is not much in our zona that Marta Dottorelli does not know.
Near this pool, where the stream runs clear, is the place where the crescione — the watercress – grows.

Watercress Soup - a clear stream with watercress growing around it.

This herb is good not only for the eating but for the health. It will ease the rheumatismo. It will keep your hair from falling out.
This is very well known in our country from Etruscan times, something even that British Archaeologist does not know.

Here are my ingredients for the soup.

Watercress soup ingredients in a basket, watercress, onions, garlic & potatoes.

But first I have made the very good chicken broth, which I then have skimmed and set aside.

Watercress Soup - chicken broth ingredients in a stainless steel bowl

Now into the oven I put a large roasting pan with chopped potatoes, onions, and garlic, to roast with olive oil and sea salt.
If you wish, you can sauté. But roasting gives a lovely rich flavor.

Please do not ask me the amounts. This will depend on how much soup you want to make, and as I have told you before, in Tuscan cooking you should be in control of the dish, do not let it be in control of you.

Now I cut away the lower stems of the watercress, which might be muddy. I wash it very well. I add a little vinegar and let the plants soak for a few minutes before rinsing.

Watercress Soup - watercress in sink with water pouring on it

I add everything to my big soup pot (with the cooked broth which I have strained and skimmed) and simmer just until the watercress is tender.

Allora! but I have warned you before.That woman who writes the novel called The Whirling Girl will tell you in my kitchen we are not modern. Beh! We have many good “appliances” electric (though we do not always prefer to use).
For these soups with the roasted vegetables that make everything a little “thick”, a “blender” is my faithful tool.

But if you do not have a “blender” you can use a “food mill”, as Nonna Margherita would have done. (Also this is very good for when the electricity goes out, as it often does in our country.)

Stainless steel Food Mill for blending ingredients for watercress soup.

(You can make many soups with fresh green vegetables using this method, for example spinache. They will be much more healthy than soups made thick with flour and with cream.)

When you have done the blending, you will put everything back in your pot and heat and adjust the seasoning. You can then eat it hot, or it is also delicious cold. (And if you want, you can also freeze, to have a taste of summer in the depth of winter.)

Buon Appetito!

Bowl of Watercress Soup with a garnish of watercress on top.

And remember what I have told you before. As we say in Tuscany: To eat well is the best revenge.