A perfect soup for the spring and summer months when watercress is in season, and you are craving lighter, fresher flavors. This watercress soup recipe is great cold, too, for when it gets really hot.–Shelagh Ryan

LC What’s Sup? Note

“What’s up?” you ask. We actually prefer to inquire “What’s sup?” It more pointedly asks what lovely thing you’ve been supping or, in this case, sipping as of late. And we gotta say, we hope your answer to the query is this soup. If you’re like us, one sip—er, sup—is all it took to get us hooked.

A pot of green watercress soup and a black bowl of soup nearby.

Watercress Soup

5 from 1 vote
Fresh, green, and incredibly tasty, this soup is a delight all year round. Try it cold for a refreshing summer supper.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories300 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes


  • Kitchen twine (optional)


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek (white and pale green parts), roughly chopped (1 to 2 cups)
  • 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped (1 cup)
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 5 cups homemade vegetable broth, (or substitute homemade chicken stock)
  • 1 pound new potatoes, (or substitute Yukon Golds or russets), peeled if desired and roughly chopped
  • About 7 cups fresh watercress leaves, washed and trimmed
  • 1 lemon or lime, quartered, (optional)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons crème fraîche or plain Greek yogurt, for serving


  • Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan placed over medium heat. Add the leek and celery and cook until the vegetables start to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Tie the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf together with some kitchen twine to make a bouquet garni (or you could cram the herbs into a tea infuser). Add the bouquet garni to the pan along with the garlic and salt and pepper to taste and cook for 1 minute. Add the butter and continue to sauté until the vegetables are completely softened but not colored, 6 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the broth (or stock) and potatoes and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and cooked through.
  • Add the watercress and stir through. Cover the pan, remove it from the heat, and wait until the residual warmth of the soup wilts the watercress, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove and discard the herb bouquet. Purée the soup with an immersion blender (or wait a few minutes to let the soup cool a tad and purée it in a blender, working in batches if necessary).
  • Taste and season the soup with salt and pepper and, if desired, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Ladle the soup into bowls and stir in a dollop of crème fraîche or yogurt. Serve hot, warm, room temperature, or chilled.

Adapted From

Café Kitchen

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 300 kcalCarbohydrates: 33 gProtein: 5 gFat: 18 gSaturated Fat: 8 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 8 gTrans Fat: 0.4 gCholesterol: 29 mgSodium: 1250 mgPotassium: 863 mgFiber: 5 gSugar: 6 gVitamin A: 3410 IUVitamin C: 68 mgCalcium: 139 mgIron: 2 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2014 Shelagh Ryan. Photo © 2014 Kate Whitaker. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

We loved this soup. The fresh watercress turns the soup a gorgeous shade of green, making it the perfect soup for spring and summer. We ate this soup hot, warm, at room temperature, and cold, and it was great at each temperature. We found that a lot of salt and pepper was needed to coax out the flavor. The hands-on prep time was 30 minutes, and the cooking time was 30 minutes for a total time of one hour. My chopped leek weighed 5 ounces and came to 2 cups in volume. I used peeled, Yukon Gold potatoes, which I cut into 2-inch chunks. I didn’t have crème fraîche, so I used a teaspoon of heavy cream which worked very well. Sour cream or Greek yogurt would probably also be good substitutes for the crème fraîche.

This watercress soup is just the ticket for spring. Easy to make, full of flavor, and a beautiful shade of pastel green—what more could you want? I didn’t peel my potatoes, and I enjoyed the added texture the skins gave to the finished soup. The crème fraîche is almost optional, as the soup ends up so creamy. But I did say almost, so treat yourself to a little extra indulgence and add that dollop. To take this soup right over the top, add a judicious squeeze of lemon juice before serving. It really brings it all together.

Move over, vichyssoise. This warm watercress soup is just as lovely as the potato and leek classic. Filled with the lovely green flavors of leeks, celery, fresh herbs, and peppery watercress, this soup is a new favorite in my springtime recipe collection. The addition of butter and potatoes (I used baby Dutch potatoes here—no need to peel them, I just roughly chopped them) really creates a rich and perfectly thick texture for the soup. I did not put the herbs in a garni but instead just threw them in the pot. I used some homemade chicken stock that I had on hand. I puréed the soup with my trusty handheld immersion blender and voilà—a perfect springtime soup that was lovely to look at but even better to taste. I served it warm, but I have leftovers which I think would be yummy chilled for lunch today.

This soup has all the flavor of spring and is light enough for either a cool or warm evening. The instructions are straightforward and uncomplicated. I used purchased vegetable broth and Yukon Gold potatoes. You need to pay attention to the sautéing of the vegetables, as they may turn brown quickly. I did not tie my fresh herbs into a bouquet garni, and there was no problem removing the free-flowing herbs from the soup prior to blending. The soup has a clean flavor, but the addition of crème fraîche or sour cream lifts the texture and taste to a new level. The soup could be enhanced by garnishing with fried shallots or fresh croutons. It’s also enjoyable served at room temperature.

This soup is comforting. I made it after a frustrating day and wanted something simple for dinner. There was a delicious aroma as it cooked, and it was soothing to eat. I thought it would be a thinner soup but found I really liked its thick texture. I had purchased a bag of mini new yellow potatoes, and since they were so small, I only had to halve them before putting them in the broth. I served this straight-from-the-pot hot and went back for a second cup when it was warm, forgetting tp add the crème fraîche, and it was still terrific. It made 6 mug-size servings.

I ended up halving the recipe because when I got home and weighed my 2 bunches watercress (I had 170 grams). The watercress soup itself is lovely and creamy with a bit of tang. The crème fraîche added a nice contrast to the soup. Half a recipe provided 4 small portions. I did add a little salt and pepper at the end when adjusting the seasonings. I first served the soup warm (not scalding), which was great. I also tasted it cold but preferred it warm.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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