those pictures are making me so immensely happy…the colors! oh, the fresh spring greens! and peas! everything with freshly peeled peas must be a gift from heaven. and the soft lilac of the lady’s smock flowers. can’t get over the perfection – or imperfection, and maybe that’s what makes it so endearing – of this shoot that happened a while back with christine benz. thank you for providing me with something to be proud of, friend!
this soup was, by the way, delicious, if not to say delectable. i’m not thaaaat much of a creamy soup lover. i’m much more into this kinda thingy. or this little green number here, mind. but my guests on the last supper (this expression always makes me smirk by the way…) surprised me with amazing echo for it. what can i say: people love soup… it’s evident that they do. though, to this date, i still haven’t quite gotten it (that’s why i’m repeating myself) – i don’t mean that they like a good soup (becasuse who doesn’t), i mean that they like this kind of soup that much. and this one here, a wild cress, watercress and lesser celandine fancy foamy vibrantly green one with the first peas the season has to offer and lady’s smock on top must have been particularly good. well, it better has, since it was quite a lot of work, really. what with making our own broth, to start with… and right here and now also a major thank you to my mom for being the best source of inspiration in all things style, home, flowers and food (i know… the many talents this woman has, it’s insane…), for being my best pal and for supporting me, no matter what i’m up to (and even it’s something cheeky).
also, it seems there’s quite a lot on my list of ‘things to be thankful for’. well, jolly good life, i guess.
watercress foam soup with peas and lady’s smock
ingredients for the vegetable broth:
2 carrots & greens (if available)
1 fennel & greens
1 piece leek
1 piece celery stalks
1 bunch parsley stems
for the soup:
500g watercress + handful wild cress or lesser celandine (optional)
500 ml heavy cream
1 bunch lady’s smock flowers
100 g peas (if you peel them on your own, get about 3x as many pea pods)
4 dollops crème fraîche
organic lemon, zest
start ahead by making the broth: coarsely chop all the vegs into cubes. note: you can always also use the skins, peels, leaves, stems and greens for making broth. add 3 liters of water and simmer on low for about 1 hour. strain the broth through a finely meshed sieve, discarding all the vegs and herbs. put the broth back on the heat and simmer it for another hour to reduce it. when it’s left to about 1/2 liter, the broth will be intense in taste and act as a wonderful base for any soup. this is a luxury, obviously, but this soup really lives from it.
clean the watercress (and wild cress, if you have it), then quickly blanch it for no more than a minute in hot (unsalted) water. immediately submerge in ice water. drain and pat dry thoroughly, then finely chop. blanch the freshly peeled peas as well, for 3-4 minutes, so they still have some bite to them (although mom and i do not totally agree on this point – she likes them a little more tender, the peas). drain and chill in icewater, as well, then put aside. you can prepare everything up to this step well ahead.
shortly before serving the soup, make sure the broth reduction is hot, then add the cream and bring to a boil. turn down the heat. add the finely chopped watercress and immediately blend thoroughly and then blend some more until nicely foamed up. note: once you’ve gone through with this step, you need to serve the soup rather quickly, or it will loose it’s splendid, vibrantly green colour (as well as the lovely foaminess). season with lemon zest (finely grated), a good salt (it will need quite a bit, since we’re working with unsalted home made broth) and freshly ground black pepper. divide between bowls, add a dollop of crème fraîche, scatter a handful of peas and the lady’s smock flowers and stray petals on top. serve immediately. wait for the happy stomachs to thank you.
ps: in the pictures, you also spot the wild herb gnudi that i will share with you later. and isn’t that compilation of the fully set table divine? christine poured her heart into those pictures (when i was almost already topping over with tiredness after a day of hard work…).
all pictures by: christine benz
food styling by: scarlett gau