Friday, 3 February 2012

A Cold Frosty Day And A Hot Winter Soup.

Another very chilly dawn today with temperatures still around -4C at breakfast.
 Looking out of the window, I could see snow on the tops of the far mountains and mellow pink sunlight on the frosty fields in the valley down below.

The garden was frozen hard including the fish pond and just after breakfast we had a burst water pipe outside. With thanks to my very kindly neighbours, it was quickly repaired. I decided that once the birds had been amply fed, then I would retreat to the kitchen. ..

Time to bake bread...

I decided to bake a quick soda bread with my Welsh smoked flour. All made and ready to eat in under an hour!

It is now that time of year where I need to go through the freezers and use up what I have previously stored, in preparation-hopefully- for this year’s crops. 

So for lunch today, together with the bread, was some delicious hot soup that I defrosted from the freezer. 

Back last Summer, I tried growing watercress for the first time and had excellent results. It loved the frequent rain! The only problem being I had days when I had a glut and needed to quickly cook it and freeze it for later. This was a simple recipe which I could easily and speedily make using the other produce from the garden and it froze beautifully. I must admit I didn’t use my own home grown peas as I didn’t have enough and to jazz it up a little I threw in a glass of Martini-other vermouths are available...

 Watercress, Pea, Potato and Martini Soup

Large bunch of washed watercress
One large onion-finely chopped
One large garlic clove-finely crushed
One potato-finely diced
A little oil-I would recommend British Extra-Virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil.
1 glass of Martini or Vermouth
1 Litre of vegetable stock –I make mine using organic Marigold vegetable stock powder
500ml milk
250 ml crème fraiche
300g of fresh/frozen peas
Few sprigs of mint-just the leaves

In a large pan, heat a little rapeseed oil and gently fry the chopped onion and diced potato until lightly golden.

Add the martini and allow the alcohol to burn off. After a couple of minutes add the vegetable stock and crushed garlic.

Cover and simmer for 40 minutes until the potato is soft then add the watercress, peas and mint leaves. Cook for a further 5-7 minutes then remove from the heat and blitz in a blender. If you want a very smooth soup then pass through a sieve before returning to the pan and adding the milk and crème fraiche. Gently stir and reheat. 

Serve with some crusty bread and if you want to be extra fancy then retain some of the crème fraiche and swirl on top of each bowl of soup and garnish with a couple of fresh watercress leaves.

It may have been a freezing Winter’s day outside but at least I could still savour the joys of last Summer’s produce in the warm as I planned-and dreamed- about what this year’s harvest may bring...


  1. I have never heard of putting vermouth in watercress soup before. Presumably you use the Bianco one, not the Rosso, otherwise your soup would be a very strange colour!
    I love the pink light in your photos. I wish I had a long view over countryside from my property...

    1. Hi Mark and thank you for being kind enough to comment on my blog post.

      Don’t know what made me think of adding martini that time and yes it was the Bianco Extra Dry but it worked an absolute treat!

      Since I’ve started this blog I’ve been discovering so much by taking photos and never really appreciated the lovely pink morning light we get in the Winter months.

      I do have to thank you and your wonderful photos on your blog for kick starting me into this!!

      Thank you again!

  2. What a spectacular view! And the soup looks quite comforting.... with the bread.. I'd not leave the kitchen!

    1. Hi David and kind of you to leave a comment!

      The soup is very, very moreish! I love watercress and was inordinately proud of having grown my own for the first time. The ‘pepperyness’ of it works very well with the sweetness of the peas and thickened with the potato was very comforting to the soul indeed!

      However, no lovely view outside today. It has been snowing nonstop for the last seven hours so all is whiteness...

  3. I love the idea of putting martini in the soup! I had to smile when I read your post because I am also baking bread and making soup. Definitely the weather for it!

    1. Hi Elaine. Thank you so much for dropping by. As I am so new to this blogging I get so excited with each comment I get!

      Adding the martini really adds to the aroma of the soup as it is cooking-and besides which I thought it would be fun!!

      Enjoy your bread and soup-we now have over an inch of snow today already...

  4. We have had a lot of snow to contend with this morning - the sun came out and melted it a little but now the fog is back and the sky is heavy with what looks like more snow. I have taken pictures but none as beautiful as yours with the lovely pink glow. It is definitely soup weather - I dug up a few parsnips in the week before the ground froze solid - so I think Leek and Potato will be on the menu for next week.

  5. Sorry - that didn't make sense - I meant to say that Curried Parsnip will be on the menu, not Leek and Potato - I think the cold has numbed my brain.

  6. Hi Elaine,

    Thank you too for being kind enough to stop by and comment. I know how you feel about the cold getting to you!! Thankfully a thaw has started here as this morning it was impossible to get the car out.

    Mmm.. Curried parsnip soup sounds really post your recipe!

  7. I grow watercress too - it enjoys our winters but dies off completely in summer. I do like your cooking style - lots of booze! I usually just make a standard watercress soup without the peas or vermouth, although I do use celery and leeks, - I'm looking forward to trying these additions.

    1. Hi Liz, mine is the opposite! Wonderful in our Summer but dormant in the Winter. I was so pleased today that it is still looking green after the snow had melted. I’ve been told that although there are a few green leaves not to attempt to pick any now as that will kill it off. Can’t wait for the new growth later this year as I want to try making some watercress pesto with it this Summer.

      As for my ‘boozy’ cooking style-if you look closely at my ‘profile’ photo you might see a ladle in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other!!

  8. Wonderful view! I'm not familiar with Welsh smoked flour, will have to investigate...

    1. Thanks for posting a comment-much appreciated! The soda bread is lovely with the smoked flour. I’m going to try making a pizza with it next as I think that will work well.

  9. Adding martini to soup?! Now that sounds interesting. I recently placed my hands on a bottle of fenny from Goa. I wonder if it makes the soup taste as good. I'll let you know when I have tried.

    P.S I shall be following your blog hereafter.

    1. Thank you Sri for your comment and being kind enough to follow my blog. I get so excited with each new follower!
      I had never heard about ‘Fenny’ so googled it. Sounds interesting. Did you have the coconut one or the cashew? Would be fun to come up with recipes for it!!

  10. Lovely photos. Never heard of Welsh smoked flour, must Google. You soup looks yummy.

    1. Thank you Norma for stopping by and your kind comment. It is so nice to get new visitors! I’m trying to take better photos and everyone has been very helpful-it not their fault I’m a slow learner when it comes to technology...The soup was indeed delicious-I just love watercress and the other flavours combined beautifully. The Welsh smoked flour is lovely to bake with and is from In the UK you can also purchase it from Amazon.


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