Spinach and watercress soup
The Italian name for this soup is vellutata , which means ‘velvety’, and this soup is indeed quite velvety and delicious. It is a favourite of mine, despite it not being really Italian. The recipe was given to me by a friend, a very good English cook. I like the soup very much because the watercress here is not really cooked, just heated through, and thus it keeps its distinctive peppery flavour. Serves 4
30g unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 x 150g can cannellini beans
250ml vegetable stock 1 bunch watercress, washed 500g fresh spinach, roots cut off and washed thoroughly
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Single cream and crushed chilli flakes to serve, optional
Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan and add the onion together with a pinch of salt. Gently saute the onion for a few minutes, stirring frequently so that it just becomes soft and slightly coloured, not golden.
Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and add to the soup together with the stock. Bring to the boil.
Add the watercress and spinach to the saucepan and mix well. Do this a little at a time, all the while stirring so that the vegetables easily fit in the saucepan. As soon as all the vegetables are in, give the soup a good stir and turn the heat off. The watercress and the spinach should just wilt, not cook.
Use a stick blender to blend the soup for a few seconds. Add salt and pepper to taste and then ladle the soup into individual soup bowls. Serve as it is – and it is very good – or with a jug of pouring cream or, for a delicious kick, with an added pinch of crushed chilli flakes.
Recipes adapted from Vegetables All’Italiana, Pavilion