Watercress soup

Watercress soup

Sopa de agriao

4 as a starter, or 2 as a hearty lunch
Steven Joyce

This is a lovely way to use peppery watercress. It is one of those dishes that Portuguese expatriates remember from their childhoods, and most families cook a version of this soup, sometimes using other seasonal greens such as purslane. Some cooks make it even heartier by adding small pasta or even barley.

If you don’t like turnip, add another 50 g of potato, instead.


Quantity Ingredient
olive oil, for cooking
1/2 onion, finely chopped
150g potato, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 small turnip, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500ml hot home-made or shop-bought chicken or vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons salted butter
75g watercress, washed and roughly chopped, any large or tough stalks removed
crusty bread, to serve


  1. Place a large pan with a lid over a medium heat. Add a splash of olive oil and the onion, potato, carrot and turnip. Cook gently for 5 minutes or so, stirring often. Add the crushed garlic and cook for a further minute.
  2. Next, add the hot stock. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Remove from the heat and use a jug blender or hand-held blender to blitz the soup until smooth. Return to the pan and season to taste with salt, pepper and the butter. Place back on the heat and bring to a simmer before adding the chopped watercress. Cook for 2 minutes and then divide between 4 bowls, garnishing each serving with a reserved sprig of watercress.
  4. Serve with crusty bread.
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