Saturday, November 10, 2012

Warmth, inside and out, and watercress sorrel soup


Someone asked me recently what was the common denominator among my friends. What was the thing I sought out and was most attracted to in others? It surprised me how quickly the answer came to me: inner warmth. Life certainly has its shares of cold winter days, where one feels lonely, or inadequate, or hopeless, or lost, or irate. Sometimes there are Chernobyl days where you feel all of those things at the same time! (Read: meltdown). The warm, cashmere-soft, inner flame of friendship is what might get me through those winters. Even if life is too hard to reach out to those friends explicitly. Just knowing the very existence of those human beings. Knowing they're in my life. Knowing they are my village. So warm, a moment of carefree laughter with them, even in my darkest hours. When I think of friendship, I imagine myself rubbing hands very close to a fireplace, comforted by the warmth in every part of my being. 


Inner warmth. I can tell right away if I sense it in someone, but I can't exactly pinpoint what it is. A bunch of things, I suppose. To be open-minded, generous, nurturing. To be mindful of others, attentive, interested, genuine. To be observant, engaged. To want to connect and share. Something like that.

I guess inner warmth, and all its components, is also what I want to bring to the world.  To my son. To my loved ones. To this blog.

Thinking back on my childhood, that sense of inner warmth and friendship is very much associated with meals. The "special" meals my mother would make. Or let me make. Whether it was for the two of us, or for a group of friends.

And one of my winter favorites, was the soupe verte, the green soup. Another example of how amazing simplicity can be. I have been obsessed with soup lately, perhaps needing to feed that inner warmth and keep that flame going. And on a winter night, with family and friends, whether they are there in person or in spirit, this is a soup to warm and nurture the body and soul.


Watercress & sorrel velouté (soup)

Serves about 6

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 45 min

Age for babies: I started this very young, 4-6 months. You can make a puree version, steaming two handful watercress, sorrel (optional) and 1 small potato, and mixing adding water or milk to obtain desired consistency.

2 bunches of watercress, washed thoroughly, stems on
1 handful / bunch of sorrel leaves, washed, stems on
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
Salt & pepper
Dollop of crème fraiche* or yogurt (the liquidy euro-style kind, I really like Bellwether Farms sheep's milk yogurt)

Place the potatoes in about 6 cups of cold water, with a pinch of salt.

When the water is boiling, throw in the watercress and sorrel (leaves and stems).

Let simmer 30-40 minutes.

Blend thoroughly with an immersion blender until very smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a spoonful of crème fraîche or yogurt, if desired.

*About the crème fraîche: this is basically French sour cream, much less sour than American-style sour cream. Some stores sell it, but if you want to make it, it is very easy. Take 1 cup of heavy cream (preferably organic from grass-fed cows, raw, or pasteurized, but not ultra pasteurized) and leave it out until it's room temperature. Add 2 tbsp of cultured buttermilk (that can come from the fridge), and stir with a spoon. Cover and leave in a semi-warm place (like the oven with the light on) from 12-24 hours. It will thicken a bit, you might see bubble from the cultures. It will not be as thick as sour cream, still very liquidy, but a bit thicker than the heavy cream. Put in the fridge a few hours, and it will get firmer. You can keep about a week in the fridge.

Variation: You can make this a watercress only soup, simply skip the sorrel.

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  1. It sounds absolutely delicious Helene and I love the photos. It is early in the morning here, but I still crave a bowl. ps your own warmth shines through in this blog x

  2. I've used watercress in salad and saute before, but never made a soup out of it. Looks so beautiful, Helene. I love how photograph and style the food, as well as your brilliant writing! You really have a lovely space here. I love this green color soup - a little different shade of green compared to spinach or broccoli and it's beautiful.

  3. Great Piece!
    Your photo and its’ source have been featured on the World Food Guide website:


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