Cream of Watercress Soup

  • Serves

    serves 4-6

Watercress lends a peppery kick to this elegant springtime soup from The Paris Cookbook by Patricia Wells; garnished with heavy cream and caviar, it's a luxurious first course. This recipe first appeared in our March 2012 issue, with the essay Toujours Paris by Aleksandra Crapanzano.


  • 10 oz. watercress, stems removed
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. leeks, white and light-green parts only, halved, rinsed, and thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp. caviar, such as osetra (optional)


Step 1

Bring a 4-qt. saucepan of water to a boil and add watercress; cook until bright green and wilted, about 3 minutes. Drain and place watercress in a bowl of ice water; let sit for 1 minute. Drain, squeezing out as much liquid as possible; set aside.

Step 2

Heat butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks, onion, and salt, and cook, stirring, until vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Add stock and 2 cups heavy cream, and bring to a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Add watercress and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Transfer soup to a blender, or use an immersion blender; purée until smooth. Return to saucepan, season with salt and white pepper, and keep warm until ready to serve.

Step 3

To serve, place remaining cream in a bowl and beat with a whisk until soft peaks form; stir in lemon juice and season with salt and white pepper. Divide soup among serving bowls and top with a dollop of seasoned whipped cream; garnish whipped cream with some of the caviar.

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