Watercress and Potato Puree with Bacon and Corn

May 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

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Here we have another recipe featuring an ingredient scored at culinary school, but it isn’t quite as fancy as mussels or unique as rabbit: humble watercress. We used fresh watercress as garnish for the ridiculous 2 lb prime rib steaks we made last week. At the end of class, my instructor dropped off a bag of green beans, a bag of snap peas and a container of watercress near my table. Since I was munching on it the night before, I was stuck with the watercress (oh, and I got the snap peas too). My instructor hinted that the watercress makes a great soup, so even though that sounded a bit bland to me, I googled “watercress soup” and found a fantastic recipe.

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The dominant flavor is definitely coconut with a hint of ginger while the ever-so-slightly bitter watercress gives the bright green color. I ended up adding frozen corn after blending because I felt like it just needed a little something more – this will be even better when fresh corn becomes available! After this addition, I realized I was mimicking the flavors of a Vegan Corn Chowder we used to make at work which used an unknown-to-me variety of nut milks (pretty sure it was just coconut milk watered down a bit with something like almond milk) and was topped with hot sauce and paprika. That chowder was good … even though it wasn’t technically a chowder since it didn’t have potatoes. And I guess this wouldn’t be a chowder since the potato is pureed, but you could easily bypass the step of pureeing the soup for a true chunky chowder. Either way, this soup is quite good. The flavors are very simple but you can taste it all with every bite. Plus it comes together so quickly, not much longer than the time it takes to boil potatoes and corn!

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Watercress and Potato Puree with Bacon and Corn:
adapted from Samoan Watercress Soup at Pease Pudding
– 4 slices of bacon, diced
– thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 3 cups water (for a thicker soup, you might be able to cut this down a bit)
– 3/4 lb waxy potatoes, large dice
– 1 bunch of watercress, woody ends removed
– 1 cup of coconut milk (for a thicker soup, you could also get away with adding more, like a whole 14 oz can)
– 4 cups frozen corn (or fresh!)
– salt and pepper
– hot sauce for serving

Place chopped bacon in a hot pot and cook until browned. Add ginger and garlic and continue to cook without burning. Add the water and potatoes, bring to a boil, down to a simmer and cook until a fork easily pierces the potato. Once cooked, add the watercress stir it in until it just begins to wilt – don’t overcook the watercress or you’ll lose the bright green color. Transfer the contents of the pot to a blender and puree. Return the soup to the pot and add the coconut milk and corn and stir in to incorporate. Cook until the corn is defrosted/cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve and add hot sauce to individual servings. Enjoy!

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