Thursday, June 24, 2010

0 Recipe #124: Cooling Off with Some Chilled Watercress Soup! (Potage Cressonnière)

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It's 96°F today, and is so hot that even our air conditioning is struggling to keep up. It's time to do anything & everything possible to stay cool, including taking cover in the fridge for a while if necessary. :)

So, for today's lunch, I made the healthy gourmet version of the classic (Northern) French dish, chilled watercress soup (i.e., sans crème, etc.). This accomplished three things: (1) Helped to cool off & beat this savage heat; (2) provided a meal of high nutritional value [i.e., watercress is a low-fat, low-cal food with mildly anti-inflammatory properties, zero glycemic load, & surprisingly high-protein content for a vegetable ;), & is also a great source of Beta-carotine, Calcium, Potassium, Lutein & Zeaxanthin, Quercetin, Vitamins A & K, and Phosphorus], and lastly; (3) provided another new recipe for the blog. :)

Chilled Watercress Soup (Potage Cressonnière)

2 1/2 c. red-skinned potatoes, peeled & sliced into 1/2" cubes (about 2 large potatoes)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 c. leek, thoroughly washed & sliced crosswise into thin rounds (about 1 small whole leek)
1/4 c. chopped yellow onions, finely chopped (about 1/4 large onion)
1/2 c. celery (about 1 small stalk)
4 c. fresh, dark green watercress, thoroughly washed, dried, roughly chopped into 2" pieces, & loosely packed (about 1 large bunch)
6 c. water
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried chervil
1/8 tsp. (freshly) ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp. fresh, Italian flat leaf parsley
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. light, nondairy creamer
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. watercress, chopped (for garnish)
1/2 Tbsp. chives (or scallion greens), chopped

Directions: Add potatoes to a pot of 6 c. boiling water, reduce heat to medium, & cook for 20 minutes, or until easily pierced by a fork. After about 15 minutes into cooking, heat olive oil & butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Wait until butter completely melts before adding flour. Thoroughly stir together flour, oil, & butter to make a roux. Then quickly add leek, onion, & celery, & sauté on low heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add watercress next and cook until wilted. Transfer pan ingredients to the pot of cooking potatoes & water. Season with salt, pepper, chervil, & nutmeg. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soup thickens. With about 5 minutes of cooking left, add fresh parsley. Remove from heat & let cool. Add lemon juice, Greek yoghurt, and light non-dairy creamer, & stir. Transfer to a blender and purée for about 2-3 minutes. Blend in batches. Chill soup for 1-3 hours before serving. When ready to serve, pour soup into bowls & garnish with chives & a few sprigs of watercress.

Chef's Notes: This soup can be chilled overnight or up to 1 day before serving. As a fun idea for parties, serve in shot glasses as an amuse-bouche.

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