I do realize it’s summer, of course, but, well, I guess all it took was one grey, slightly chilly morning to find me sipping tea at the kitchen table and flipping through the soup section of Amanda Hesser’s, Essential New York Times Cookbook. As my finger ran down the exhaustive list of soups she offers at the beginning of the chapter I stumbled across her Watercress and Basil Soup. Bright green, cheerful and versatile. I tweaked it just so, shallots instead of scallions (not my favorite), and accompanied it with Heidi Swanson’s Rye Soda Bread with Dill Goat Cheese Butter. Perfection!
This soup is lovely cold, as well. The only thing I felt was missing was a curl or two of pecorino romano to finish the dish.
Doesn’t that sound like a perfect mid-summer lunch?
I do realize, by the way, that I often credit the same circle of cookbooks. It’s true! It’s definitely time for a bit of cookbook shopping. Perhaps you all could offer a suggestion? What’s your favorite go-to cookbook?
Watercress Basil Soup with Rye Soda Bread and Dill Butter
What you’ll need:
For the soup~
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 medium potato, cubed
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
2 bunches watercress, trimmed
1/3-cup basil leaves
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Dried chives blossoms, optional
Pour olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
When it starts to shimmer add shallots and potato.
Sauté for about two minutes
Add broth and water and bring to a simmer.
Cook until the potato becomes very soft. About 10 minutes.
Add watercress and basil and cook until just wilted. About 1 minute.
Transfer soup to a blender and add ingredients with a slotted spoon. Blend, adding liquid until you get to a desired consistency. I prefer my soups a little thicker so I only used about half of the broth.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve warm or cold with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of chives blossoms.
2 1/3 cups rye flour
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
2 cups buttermilk, plus more for brushing
Preheat your oven to 400F with a rack in the middle.
Sift all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
Create a well in the middle of the mix and slowly pour in the buttermilk.
Stir just until the dough comes together.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 30 seconds into a slightly flattened disk.
Lightly flour a baking sheet and place the ball of dough in the flour.
Brush all sides with buttermilk and add a generous dusting of flour.
Grab your sharpest knife and deeply slash the dough in four places. Be sure not to slice all the way through. 2/3 deep should be plenty.
Bake the dough for about 30 minutes.
Move the rack up a notch, rotate the bread and bake for another 20 minutes until a beautiful hard, brown crust forms.
For the butter~
2-4 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons shallots, finely chopped
1/2-cup butter at room temperature
1/4-teaspoon sea salt
1/3-cup soft goat cheese
Smash all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Serve slathered on a chunk of rye soda bread.