The Quality Of Greens Makes All The Difference With Watercress Soup

Watercress might not be in your typical vegetable rotation but you should consider changing that this spring. Tasting Table recipe developer Nathaniel Lee makes watercress the star in his easy watercress soup recipe. To ensure the best results possible, it's important to use high-quality watercress. One of the hallmarks of Lee's soup is the bright green color and the peppery, spicy flavor of the watercress. The easiest way to make sure your selected watercress achieves this is to look for the freshest product possible.

Lee warns against purchasing old watercress and instead offers pointers for what quality produce should look like. "Leaves should be fairly intact and crisp. The living kind with roots is best," says Lee. He also advises tossing any watercress stems that are larger than a drinking straw as these are more fibrous and therefore tough to work with. They also taste more bitter. Just like when you're purchasing any other produce be sure to give your greens a thorough examination before purchasing and using. The watercress leaves should be a vibrant green color and free of any dark spots or blemishes. Watercress is in season from April to October and using in-season produce helps ensure a quality product. If your watercress feels slimy or overly moist it should be discarded.

The proper way to store and clean watercress

You can store watercress in a similar way to how you might store herbs like cilantro and parsley. Fill a glass jar about halfway up with water and submerge the stems of your watercress in the liquid. Cover the top of your greens with a plastic bag and this will keep them fresh for around two to three days. Alternatively, you can wrap a wet paper towel or cheesecloth around just the stems of your watercress and store them in a plastic bag. Keeping the stems moist helps the watercress keep its shape and look more appealing for longer.

Washing your watercress is simple, run the produce under cold water and be sure to rinse each leaf and stem. If you feel your watercress is looking like a little limp, you can submerge it in an ice bath for 15 to 30 minutes to rejuvenate your produce before using. You can freeze fresh watercress if you desire, start by blanching the produce. Then remove any excess moisture and store it in a freezer-safe bag. Stored this way watercress can last up to eight to 12 months. However, for the freshest most peppery watercress flavor, we recommend using it when it's as perky as possible, preferably on the day you buy it.