Cress, in various forms, has been around a long time. The Victorians had beautiful watercress gardens by their streams as a source of greens and nutrients in the winter months when little was available for fresh food. It was ideal for combatting scurvy and used in soups for those that were ill.
There are types that are great for growing in the garden in spring and fall, and even winter in the right growing zones, right in the soil. Watercress is easily grown by water, or in a bowl of water with pebbles or marbles on the kitchen counter. It is, literally, something that anyone can grow. Whether you have physical health issues, no garden space, live in an apartment, tiny home, or a camper this is a green that every single household should be growing regularly.
Cress has a peppery, addictive flavor that is high in vitamin A, C, K, Folate, which is a B vitamin, (from NutritionData.com) and Choline which is usually grouped with B vitamins because of their functions. (From HealthLine.com)
It is also high in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, and very high in potassium. It’s incredibly high in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.And all packaged in a delicious flavor! It’s no wonder it was so popular in Victorian times, especially in winter as one of the few sources of fresh greens available.
It can be used in soups, especially delicious if one is fighting a cold. It helps clear the sinuses a little and packs a wallop of nutrients.
It also used to be very popular in cold soups in the summer. The reason being, it had great flavor and required little cooking, especially before the days of A/C. The high potassium, magnesium, and other nutrients are natural electrolytes in the heat. Look up cold cress soup on Google, you won’t be disappointed, and with hot weather hitting a lot of areas, having a couple of these recipes handy is a great way to be prepared.
And the best of it is, cress grows fast. In three weeks you can be harvesting daily from your planting. Cress is a cut-and-come-again crop, so you should get at least three to four harvests out of it.
If you have not grown cress before, regular cress can be grown in a container on the counter. Keep it damp and cooler and it will give you an amazing harvest in short order. As stated, watercress can be grown in a bowl on the counter, with water and clean rocks.This is a green everyone should have in their arsenal, extra seeds in their pantry, in pantry food storage, and regularly on the menu.
I’ve even done up a video from my greenhouse, showing you some cress I started in early spring, and how insanely it has grown! There’s just so many advantages to having a container or small patch of your garden devoted to it.
This recipe is loosely based on a recipe from James Wong, from his UK show Grow Your Own Drugs. He taught all kinds of amazing facts and uses for plants and flowers and herbs that are growing all around us.
While the show has not aired in a few years now, he had a watercress chilled soup recipe that was amazing. I can’t recall all the details, but here it is as a general recipe, from what I can remember.
- Heat up three cups of chicken or vegetable broth in a pot.
- Add in one pealed and diced potato.
- Add two good handfuls of cress, washed and loosely chopped.
- Simmer for a few minutes until the potato is soft.
- Take off the heat.
- Add in one-two peeled and cored pears.
- Add in another two handfuls of fresh cress.
- Use an immersion blender to blend smooth. Or pour into a regular blender to blend till smooth, then pour back into the pot.
- Stir in 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
- Add sea salt and pepper to taste and chill.
The pepper taste of the cress combined with the sweetness of the pears is an amazing combination.
Let me know if you have had any aha moments on this by leaving a comment below! Maybe you have a cold soup recipe that you would like to share for hot weather. Good nutrition can be easy.