Wednesday 28 August 2013

Potage cressonnière à la crème (Cream of watercress and potato soup)

From Elizabeth David On Vegetables, Elizabeth David, Quadrille Publishing, 2013.
Elizabeth David is precise about how things ought to be cooked. There are no short cuts if you are to follow her procedures. She says ‘even so elementary a dish as potato soup is all the better for attention to the small details’. This is one of those, I guess, elementary dishes.

Firstly I picked the leaves off a bunch of watercress until I had a cupful of them. The stalks went into a pot with 500g potatoes, peeled and cut into not too small pieces. Into the pot also went 2.5 litres salted water. This was brought to the boil and then simmered for 25 minutes. This mixture was now sieved.
Now a little of the liquid was mixed with a tablespoon rice flour. This was mixed into the potato mixture and the liquid now went back into the saucepan and was simmered for another 25 minutes. This mixture was now sieved again, this time through a finer sieve.
Back into the saucepan went the soup. Now it was tested for seasoning, some salt and pepper added and a touch of freshly grated nutmeg. The watercress leaves were chopped and added with about ¼ cup cream. The soup was ready.
David comments that this was the type of cooking that firstly attracted her into French cooking. It was certainly a finely made soup but for tastes that have been influenced largely nowadays by Asian and Middle Eastern cooking from the influx of different cultures into Australia this had a subtlety of flavour that, while admired, I would see as a bit bland.  It was enjoyed but, for me, not one I would take the trouble to make again. I did, however, learn techniques that would be used again.
Taste: ✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔ 

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