Mark Hix’s Watercress Soup

For those who couldn’t make it to the Alresford Watercress Festival on 21 May to see what tasty creations culinary legend and master of seasonal ingredients, Mark Hix cooked up, here’s a second chance!

Mark Hix’s Watercress soup

Hampshire and Dorset are centres of watercress production. Yet while we will happily munch our way through a pile of rocket, we neglect our local peppery equivalent. So often watercress ends up as a garnish, left behind on the plate instead of being eaten and enjoyed as a nutritious vegetable.

As with most soups and sauces made with leafy green herbs, overcooking can kill the flavour and colour of watercress. So, cook briefly and chill quickly to preserve the delicate taste of this underused English leaf. Eaten raw it can be so strong it helps to mix it with other leaves or try it with orange. Asian flavours, too, suit it well. Apart from salads, it makes a great, tasty, and quick soup.

The strong taste and colour of watercress is a reminder of its high iron content. In the past it was also recommended for fighting scurvy, the ailment caused by too little vitamin C.

You could add various things to this basic recipe, like goat’s cheese, pieces of ham hock or my favourite, freshwater crayfish. There is a sort of freshwater marriage there as both come from clean running streams.


250g watercress, stalks removed

1 leek, well rinsed, trimmed and roughly chopped

1 tbsp vegetable or corn oil

1.5 litre vegetable stock (a good cube is fine)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Goats curd for garnish



Cut the stalks from the watercress and put the leaves to one side.

Gently cook the leek in the vegetable oil in a covered pan until soft, without allowing  it to colour. Add the vegetable stock, season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil.

Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the watercress stalks and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat, add two-thirds of the watercress leaves and blend the soup in a liquidiser, or with a stick blender, until smooth.

Strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Chop the remaining watercress leaves and add to the soup.

Bring back to the boil briefly if necessary and serve.

Add a spoonful of goat’s curd before serving.



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© 2022 Dorset Food and Drink.
All Rights Reserved. Website By MiHi