Whether you live in an area being hit by a winter cold snap or you’re lucky enough to be basking in a balmy climate, there is comfort to be found in a bowl of soup. A sip of steaming soup will warm and nourish you to your core, but there’s also great comfort found in the fact that you can’t screw up soup too badly. Gather ingredients in one pot, simmer, and voila, you’ve got soup.
There is however, a bit of an art to selecting just the right ingredients and we think Danielle Thalman has done just that with her Watercress Bacon Soup. Our first soup entry for the Primal Blueprint Cookbook Contest strikes just the right balance of home cooked comfort food (there’s bacon in it!) and intriguing, complex flavor from a green called watercress.
Watercress is one of those unassuming, weed-like greens that lets others, like spinach and arugula, hog the spotlight even though it has just as much, if not more, to offer. Those of you who buy watercress regularly already know about its pronounced peppery flavor and delicate leaves. But have you realized how insanely nutritious this green is? Watercress is an abundant source of beta-carotene, vitamins A, B1 and B6, C, E and K, iodine, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. It also contains a flavonoid called quercetin that is thought to act as a natural anti-histamine and reduce inflammation.
All these nutrients, and its peppery, earthy flavor, make watercress a nice contrast to meaty, rich bacon. Together, with the help of just a little onion and garlic, watercress and bacon simmer into a soup loaded with flavor and comforting goodness.
4-8 slices bacon
One bunch of watercress (wash and separate the leaves and stems then chop the stems up fine)
1 red onion, finely chopped (or white onion)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 cups meat stock
Inner leaves of celery (to add flavor to the broth)
Optional Ingredients: For a richer broth, Danielle sometimes adds 1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream or a peeled and cubed potato (sweet or russet) to the soup. When she wants to turn the soup into an even heartier winter meal, she’ll grill a NY steak while the soup is simmering and then plop half the steak into each bowl of soup.
Start by frying the bacon in a large, deep frying pan. Then remove the bacon, chop it up and set it aside; use the bacon grease (or olive oil if desired) to sauté the onion and garlic until browned. Then add the watercress stems, crumbled bacon, stock and celery leaves.
(If using cream or potato, add now) Simmer for at least 30 minutes with a lid on then add the watercress leaves and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
Pluck out the celery leaves. Add salt and pepper if needed, but the watercress and bacon should already provide adequate seasoning.
Makes two big meal-sized servings or 3-4 smaller “lunch side dish” servings.