Watercress Appetizer Soup

Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –

* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2016/01/13/on-appetizer-soups/

So, I was thinking about how I was going to go about making an appetizer watercress soup and maintain it’s pepperiness.  After doing some research, I realized that the cream of cauliflower soup I’d made for New Years Eve dinner was not unlike the preparation from The Complete Robuchon (Cauliflower Veloute p. 107).  In Robuchon’s book, he also had a recipe for watercress potage (p.88) that made use of a small onion, a pound of potatoes and a pound of watercress, chicken broth and

Primary cast of characters - 1/2lb watercress, 1/2 lb yukon gold potato, 1/4 lb yellow onion

Primary cast of characters – 1/2lb watercress, 1/2 lb yukon gold potato, 1/4 lb yellow onion

cream.  Well then, that did not sound unlike the soup that Gordon Ramsay made as well…

Keeping in mind what Chef Keller, said, I thought I’d sautee some onions, add in mandolined yukon potatoes that had been

Peeled, mandolined yukon gold potato

Peeled, mandolined yukon gold potato

...finely diced onion...

…finely diced onion…

sweating down the onions on medium heat for about 5 minutes

sweating down the onions on medium heat for about 5 minutes

soaked and then add konbu stock to cook them down. But how long to soak the potatoes? Presumably this is done so that the thinly sliced potatoes cook faster and the soaking reduces them from sticking together.  An article at http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/remove-starch-potatoes-11537.html suggests yukon gold won’t need a long time.  I’d encountered some suggestions that a 30 minute soak might be enough.   When the onions were sweated down, I would add the potato slices and then (as it would turn out, 1 cup) the konbu dashi until the potatoes were softened.

Cooking down the onions and potatoes as the potage base

Cooking down the onions and potatoes as the potage base

To continue the cooking process, I would then quickly blanch the watercress (for about 1 minute on a rolling boil) and then

Blanching the watercress

Blanching the watercress

shock them to stop cooking.  I’d then puree the watercress with cooked potato and onions with a little bit of the konbu stock

loading the food processor with the shocked watercress to be followed with the cooked potato/onion/konbu mix

loading the food processor with the shocked watercress to be followed with the cooked potato/onion/konbu mix

used to cook the potatoes/onions.  All that would be left to do would be to adjust the consistency of the puree with a bit of the konbu stock used to cook the potatoes/onions.  As it would turn out, 1 would only need the 1 cup of konbu broth with which I

Combined ingredients - with similar color to the potage in the video

Combined ingredients – with similar color to the potage in the video

used to cook the potatoes and onions. All that was left to do was to season the soup and that turned out to be 1/2 t of salt/pepper mix.

Chef Robuchon’s recipe serves 6, so I would adjust the recipe ingredients to be:

1/2 lb yukon gold potatoes, peeled, mandolined, soaked in water
1/2 small onion
1/2 lb of watercress
3 cups of chicken broth (I would use 1 c konbu stock here)
salt/pepper (1/2 t 4:1 salt/pepper mix)
1/3 cup heavy cream

and while Chef Ramsay garnished his dish with a poached egg, I thought I’d add a seared scallop instead.  If one left out the scallop, it’d be a pure vegan dish.  While I was cooking the scallops (seasoned with 4:1 salt/pepper mix) at 4 minutes each side, I

starting the sear on the scallops for my wife and I

starting the sear on the scallops for my wife and I

was careful not to overheat/overcook to soup but keep it warm.  I wanted to preserve the pepperieness of the watercress, and I remember past experiences where I had cooked the cress too long and having lost that ‘bite’.

Watercress soup with seared scallop

Watercress soup with seared scallop

…and how did it taste?  On tasting the soup, my wife and I agreed that it had that focused peppery cress flavor that also contrasted with the rich sweetness of the scallop.  To be sure, the portion(s) here was much more than canape soup described by Chef Keller, but I could see this covering 6 to 8 demitasse cups. I think the important thing about learning to make the sort of soup is that I could apply this process to other green leafy vegetables.  I’m looking forward to starting weekend meals with canape soups now that I have a better understanding of this dish – it definitely sharpens the appetite. To Chefs Keller, Robuchon, Ramsay and Matsuhisa, thank you for the cooking lessons.

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