Watercress, carrot and lentil soup

I picked up a big bunch of watercress reduced to 34 p at the shops the other day! Watercress loses its freshness so quickly, that it usually isn’t worth buying when it’s reduced in price, it tends to look a little battered… But this bunch looked beautiful, with perky leaves and crisp stems. Some of it went in sandwiches, and very good it was too, but the rest had to become soup!

I wanted to keep the gorgeous watercress flavour, but pair it with something other than the usual potato base for this type of soup. So I’ve gone for sweet carrots and earthy lentils to complement the peppery flavour.

The watercress isn’t cooked into the soup, just stirred through at the end. Too much heat can dull the colour and flavour but this method ensures that both stay intact, and it reheats well too!

Watercress, carrot and lentil soup

Watercress, carrot and lentil soup

makes 4 servings

100 g small green lentils

400 ml water (there should be around 100 ml left when the lentils have cooked)

5 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced

1 onion, finely diced

3 sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp fennel seeds

1 bay leaf

800 ml light vegetable stock

100 g watercress, chopped (stalks too, they have loads of flavour)

salt and pepper

Put the lentils in a large saucepan or casserole pan along with the water and bring to a simmer on a medium heat. Cook for around 15 minutes, until tender.

Remove the lentils from the pan using a slotted spoon, leaving the cooking liquid behind. Add the carrots, onion, sundried tomatoes, thyme, fennel, bay and stock to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are soft. I did mine covered in a 180 degree oven which took 40 minutes, I would think they’d take around 25 minutes on the hob.

Blend the carrot mixture until smooth, and then return to the pan. Add the lentils and heat the soup through on a low flame. Stir the watercress in, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

By E.

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