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Watercress and Roasted Potato Soup

Soup days are not over here on Cape Breton Island. We've had a week of rainy-windy weather, interrupted here and there by brief periods of sun. Cook-outs are just around the corner, but there's no rush. Just fill me up another bowl of that watercress soup. You can eat watercress raw as a salad leaf, or you can cook it. I made a soup with watercress and some roasted potatoes. I roasted the potatoes with herbs simply to give them (and the soup) a greater depth of flavor. You could also use any form of leftover potatoes--a rare sort, but hey, that's us. To make a good soup you need a good stock. That said, I really encourage you to make your own. Once you do, you won't want to go back.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

• 3 medium potatoes, roughly cut in 1/2" slices • 2 medium onions, chopped • 5-6 cups vegetable stock • 2 cups watercress, roughly chopped • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil • 1 teaspoon dried thyme • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary • a few crushed red chili flakes • 2 tablespoon cream • salt + ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a bowl, mix the potatoes with oil, thyme, rosemary, chili, salt and pepper. Lay them on a pan and roast them in the oven for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. In a medium pot, sweat the onions in a bit of oil until translucent. Add the roasted potatoes and watercress, give it a stir and add the stock. Simmer for 30 minutes. Blend the soup roughly with a hand mixer for a couple of seconds. You still want some potato chunks in there. Add the cream, season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

The Basics - Stock, Mayo, and Spices

Here are a few recipes that will set your cooking apart: homemade stock; mayonnaise or, as my fiance's family calls it, "Food of the Gods"; and a Cajun spice mix, which makes flavoring a snap.

Yields 5-6 cups Will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days or you can freeze it.

Vegetable Stock

• 2 medium onions, chopped • 2 medium carrots, chopped • 1-2 stalks celery, chopped • 2 garlic cloves • 2 bay leaves • 1-2 sprigs thyme • 2 branches parsley • 1 teaspoon black peppercorn, crushed

Put all ingredients in a pot and cover with water. (about 8 cups) Simmer on very low heat for 1 to 2 hours. Strain, removing the veg from the broth. Allow the broth to cool and refrigerate.

Chicken Stock

Use the same ingredients as above but add 1-2 lb of chicken bones/ carcass (meaty parts and skin on) and an extra 4 cups of water. Simmer on very low heat for at least 2 hours (more is better), skimming the foam that forms on the surface. Strain, allow to cool and refrigerate.

Mayonnaise

Use neutral oils like sunflower, canola or grapeseed. You can mix one of these with half olive oil if you like it.

Yields about 2 cups

• 2 egg yolks • 1 1/2 cup of oil • 2 tablespoons lemon juice • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk or blend with a hand mixer/blender the yolks, mustard, half of the lemon juice and the salt. Then add the oil in drizzles, little by little and never stop mixing. Once all of the oil has been incorporated you’ll have a nice, thick mayo. Add the rest of the lemon juice. It will keep for a couple of days in the fridge.

Aioli

Once your mayo is done add • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Honey Dijonnaise

Once your mayo is done add • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard • 1 tablespoon of honey

Cajun Mayonnaise

Once your mayo is done add • 2 teaspoons cajun spice mix

Cajun Spices

You can rub this Cajun spice mix on meat or fish, or put it in a marinade, batter, or sauce.

• 2 tablespoons paprika • 2 teaspoons onion powder • 2 teaspoons garlic powder • 2 teaspoons salt • 1 teaspoon black pepper • 1 teaspoon dried thyme • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all the ingredients. Keep in a sealed container.