Watercress Soup with Croutons and a Poached Egg


Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

A Long and Messy Business

A Long and Messy Business

By Rowley Leigh

Published 2018

  • About

If making the soup ahead of time, the eggs can be plunged into iced water as soon as they are cooked and reheated in boiling salted water at the last moment.


  • 300 g (10½ oz) large maincrop potatoes, peeled and cut into very fine dice
  • 4–6 bunches of watercress
  • 100 g ( oz) butter
  • 3 slices of white bread, crusts removed, cut into neat cubes of less than 1cm (½in)
  • wine vinegar, for cooking the eggs
  • 6 eggs
  • salt


Rinse the potatoes in cold water and then put them in a saucepan containing 1.5 litres (2 ½ pints) cold water. Bring the water to a simmer, add a generous pinch of salt and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the potato is cooked through. Remove from the heat and set aside, but do not drain.

Cut away the bottom half of the watercress stalks, rinse the remainder in cold water, then spin-dry. Heat a large, heavy saucepan until very hot. Throw in one-quarter of the butter, then quickly follow with the watercress to prevent the butter burning. Season with a pinch of salt and, as soon as the watercress has wilted, add the potatoes and their water. Bring back to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 2 minutes. Blend the soup until it is a deep green colour with no flecks remaining.

Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and add the cubes of bread. On a high heat, turn the croutons constantly as they cook, shaking the pan and turning them with a slotted spoon so they colour evenly. Once they turn an even golden brown, drain them, saving the butter.

Bring a deep saucepan of water to a simmer. Add a capful of wine vinegar. Carefully break each egg into a cup. Gently reheat the soup without letting it boil and have six warm bowls at the ready. Bring the water back to the boil and slip one of the eggs into its fastest eddy. The water will slow down until the egg comes back to the surface. Each time the water comes back to the boil, repeat the process. Turn the heat down and let the eggs gently poach, keeping them nicely runny in the middle. As soon as they are cooked, lift them out with a slotted spoon, trimming off any trailing white.

To serve, pour the very hot soup into bowls, slip in an egg and sprinkle a few croutons on top. A teaspoon of the butter can be poured over each egg.