Watercress Soup
Classy, Delicate or Hearty... But Equally Tasty

Fat-free and packed with minerals and antioxidants - watercress is often hailed as the "new" superfood. You can find it in posh roast beef sandwiches, reclining next to roast chicken or steamed salmon and in all manner of ready-packed salad bags. And TV chefs love it, of course.

But if you think we've only just discovered it, then you're wrong. Watercress has been grown for centuries along Hampshire's clean chalk streams. Vast quantities of it were shipped to London's famous Covent Garden market after the arrival of the railways made speedy transport possible.

And if you visit Alresford in Hampshire, you can still travel on the Watercress Line, the railway that popularised watercress in Victorian London.

The Victorians, who knew a good thing when they saw it, took to the fresh peppery taste almost immediately. But they did not restrict watercress to sandwich fillings and salads. They loved soups, too, and watercress soup - which can be either hearty, delicate or downright classy - was right up their street. Check out these easy recipes:

Fresh Watercress | © Alison Bowden fotolia.com

Classy Watercress Soup

This  soup recipes produces a very classy starter... Impressive enough for a dinner party

Fresh Watercress | © Alison Bowden fotolia.com

Light Watercress Soup

The easiest of all watercress soup recipes. This makes a light, delicious lunch ... for when you need a little me-time.

Hearty Watercress Soup | © Monkey Business fotolia.com

Hearty Watercress Soup

This recipe has a little more substance. It makes a beautiful hearty soup, a wonderful lunch during a sudden cold snap or as a post-gardening pick-me-up.

And do you need to be a kitchen wizard to make any of these recipes?  Not at all.  Making watercress soup usually just requires ingredients, a pot and a little bit of patience. What you do need, though, is a nice set of soup bowls to serve your watercress soup ... just to show off the wonderful colour.

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Try the Recipes section for tasty puddings
to team with your soup.