What to CookWatercress

A Mean, Green, Pantry-Friendly Soup That's As Good Hot or Cold

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Melissa Hemsley is one half of the U.K.-based Hemsley + Hemsley, the wildly popular food and wellness company she built up with her sister, Jasmine. Now, Melissa is on her own with her first solo cookbook, Eat Happy: 30-Minute Feelgood Food, where she champions quick recipes that focus on maximizing flavor, limiting waste, and as the title suggests, keep you feeling bright. Read on for her take on a great weeknight-friendly green powerhouse of a soup.


Watercress is such a fantastic and tasty leafy green. It's one of my favorite greens―delicious raw in salads or lightly cooked in soups and stews. Here, it shines supreme as the star of this recipe: a cheerful and crowd-pleasing watercress, pea, and mint soup.

I’m rarely without watercress, it is a "fridge forever" item for me. Watercress pesto! Watercress salsa verde! It’s also my favorite thing to serve alongside a reheated stew or to drop on top of a soup to brighten it up and add that all-important freshness. If you can’t get watercress, substitute with spinach, which you could keep in the freezer with the peas, to make this a great pantry and freezer standby.

Spicy watercress peps up this bright pantry-friendly soup.
Spicy watercress peps up this bright pantry-friendly soup. Photo by Ty Mecham

Frozen peas bring the sweetness and add even more punchy green. I love a pea soup, but sometimes peas alone can make for a somewhat one-note dish. Peppery watercress peps everything up, plus it's an excellent way of using up the stalks, too. For a truly satisfying soup (not always the case with some wispy ones), canned white beans add creaminess and substance. I’ve made this soup with cannellini, butter beans, navy beans, chickpeas—they all work.

This makes a delicious and refreshing cold soup as well. You could even add in some coconut milk, going in half and half with the stock. Then swap the lemon juice for lime, and introduce some cilantro! Last month, I made this with lots of wild garlic instead of plain old garlic. And basil instead of mint. Sub in spring onions or home-grown chives (the only thing I’ve ever consistently been able to grow and have flourish), instead of standard onions. There are endless ways to make this soup work for every palate and season.

More Warm Weather Goodness Here


I’m writing this to you now after a U.K. bank holiday, which means an extended weekend filled with BBQs, picnics, and mealtimes rolling into mealtimes (the best!). This mean green soup hits the spot after a big few days when you’re wanting extra vegetables—especially the green kind—or have general food fatigue. It’s quick to make (it takes all of 15 minutes) and feels really good. Be sure to add a swirl of Tahini Lemon Drizzle (recipe below) to really give it a special and beautiful touch.

Creamy Watercress, Pea & Mint Soup

Creamy Watercress, Pea & Mint Soup

Food52 Food52
Serves 4

Creamy Watercress, Pea & Mint Soup

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 400 g tin of white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 600 milliliters stock/bone broth or water
  • 300 grams frozen peas
  • 200 grams watercress (leaves and stalks), plus extra to serve
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves, plus extra to serve
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 pinch sea salt, more to taste
  • 1 pinch black pepper, more to taste
  • 1 splash extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

Tahini Lemon Drizzle

  • 8 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • 250 milliliters warm water
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch sea salt, more to taste
  • 1 pinch black pepper, more to taste
Go to Recipe

Do you have a favorite soup that works as good hot as it does cold? Share it with us below!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Vegetarian, Wellness