Barely wilted watercress lends a wonderful shade of green to this soup, rich with Stilton cheese and garnished with toasted pecans. It makes a wonderful first course or light meal, and the whole dish comes together in about an hour.
Watercress and Stilton soup
Total time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 to 6
Note: Adapted from "In the Hands of a Chef" by Jody Adams and Ken Rivard (Morrow, 2002).
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium leeks, white parts only, washed well and thinly sliced
Freshly ground white pepper
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 baking potatoes, peeled, quartered
2 bunches watercress, washed, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 cup half-and-half or whipping cream
2 to 3 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled
A few sprigs watercress
Chopped toasted pecans, for garnish
1. Melt the butter in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until soft, 8 minutes. Add the stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in the watercress and cook until wilted but bright green, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Carefully transfer to a blender or food processor in batches and puree until smooth. Strain through a coarse sieve into a clean saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
3. Stir in half-and-half and cheese until the cheese is melted. Adjust the seasoning. Garnish with sprigs of watercress and pecans.
Each of 6 servings: 217 calories; 540 mg. sodium; 41 mg. cholesterol; 12 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 19 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams protein; 2 grams fiber.