Chilled watercress soup

The heatwave continues. It was around 30C yesterday so I took the day off and went to Brockwell Lido, a massive open air pool in Brockwell Park, Herne Hill (aka ‘Brixton Beach’). I love the lido – in this kind of heat I just want access to an outdoor pool and to feel like I’m on holiday. I took a good book (Patricia Lockwood’s memoir ‘Priestdaddy’), ate a hot dog and sauerkraut from the lido snack bar, and kept dipping in the pool when I got too hot.

I also indulged my passion for people watching. The lido was packed – lots of kids (why aren’t they at school?) families, single people, serious swimmers in the fast lanes and tiny children splashing in the shallow end, one little girl on a giant inflatable unicorn. There’s a very diverse group of people at the lido – young and old, fat and thin, glamorous and practical, groups and singles.

I was back home for the second half of the France v Uruguay game and in time to rustle up this soup to have later in the evening (at half time in the Belgium v Brazil game). The recipe is dead easy and quick, the hardest part is waiting long enough for it to chill properly, which is about one to two hours (unless you want to eat it hot).

Makes about four small bowls, two large ones.


  • Large bunch of watercress (I used an organic 80g pack)
  • Half a large leek, sliced
  • 1 medium potato (or a few small salad potatoes), diced
  • Large knob of butter
  • 500 mls stock (I used home made vegetable stock)
  • 80mls single cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Melt the butter and add the leek, cook gently for about three minutes until soft. Add the raw potato and cook for about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the watercress, stalks and all, and cook for about two minutes before adding the hot stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.
  3. Remove from the heat and liquidise (I use a hand blender).
  4. Allow to cool before stirring through the cream until well mixed. Chill in the fridge until nice and cold.
IMG_5082 (2)
Brockwell Lido on a very hot day

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