Spinach & Watercress Soup with Goats Cheese & Walnuts

I like snow, I like rain, I like sun and I even like those grey mornings that promise drizzle. I like all weathers, and in the last two weeks in the UK we have seen summer eek out its final days in warm afternoons that require us to strip off our Autumn knitwear, then, before we have had a chance to bask in those rays, the leaves are all shades of red and gold and we see our breath in the morning along with the frost on the grass.

The harmonic trilogy of watercress, goats cheese and walnuts made its debut here on my blog a while ago. Here it makes it’s second appearance, not as a crunchy salad, but as a healthy and warming soup, perfect for cooler weather. Earthy, green undertones give way to salty, creaminess in the form of roasted goats cheese, topped with toasty crunchy walnuts. While light and pretty enough as a dinner party starter, this emerald soup is substantial enough for a clean and nutritious meal at any time.

Flavour and texture

Flavour and texture

Ingredients, serves 4

1 leek, roughly chopped

1 small white onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

150g organic watercress, washed and drained

150g organic spinach, washed and drained

2 tablespoons of oil, avocado is best

1 handfuls of ice cubes

400ml boiling water

Log of goats cheese, such as Coeur de Lion

50g walnuts, broken into chunks

Method

Add a tablespoon of the oil to a large saucepan, and sweat the leek, onion and garlic. Cooking slowly to create a sweet, translucent mixture, and taking care not to brown the ingredients, this should take about 10 minutes.

Then add the watercress to the pan, letting it wilt slightly with a grind of pepper and a little salt. After 3-4 minutes, add the spinach and mix well, still on the heat for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the boiling water to the greens in the pan, wait a further minute, then add the ice. Adding the ice stops the cooking of the vegetables and retains as much of their nutrition as possible (it’s also keeps it a pretty, bright green).

Transfer to a blender/food processor, blending in two batches if necessary, and purée until smooth.

When you are ready to eat the soup, slice the goats cheese into 1/2 cm rounds, and in a preheated oven, roast at 240 degrees C, for 10-12 minutes. The cheese should be warm and soft, but not bubbling. While the cheese is in the oven, toast the walnuts in a dry pan for around 5 minutes so they release their oils and subsequent flavour.

Gently warm the soup in a clean pan, ladle into warm bowls, topping with the cheese and walnuts. A final drizzle of a nicely flavoured oil (avocado, walnut or even extra virgin olive oil will do) makes it look extra special.

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Categories: Impressive Starters, Warming Winter Meals

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