Christmas potato and watercress soup

Christmas is all about the food for us. Are we alone here? Not a bloody chance. It seems this year all I’m hearing about are different holiday dinner plans. Course after course of insanity. Turkeys, pork, veal, vegetables, tourtières, desserts, cheeses, breads. Where do you stop? Actually another question would be, where do you start? With soup of course!

Winter screams for big, hot bowls of soup so why not squeeze one into the line up at Christmas time? With just a few ingredients, including a great stock, soup can start off your Yuletide feast and ease everyone into the heavy loads headed to the table. One I make often, that never fails, is a thick potato and watercress soup. Ready in about 25 minutes, it’s hearty and delicious.

Potato and watercress soup

  • 1 lb. – Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled and cut into 1/2″ chunks)
  • 1 – Medium sized onion (chopped)
  • 1 – Garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 bunch – Watercress (coarsely chopped)
  • 3 tbsp – Butter
  • 2 tbsp – Olive oil
  • 2 – 3 cups – Chicken stock (or turkey!)
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Heat the oil and 2 tbsp of butter in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Once the butter has stopped sizzling add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Don’t forget to season.
  3. After 5 minutes add the potato and just enough stock to cover.
  4. Bring everything up to the boil and then lower to a simmer.
  5. After 10 minutes throw in the watercress and add more stock to cover. You can use water instead but it won’t be as good.
  6. Cook everything at a simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender.
  7. Once there find a way to blend everything. You could do batches in a counter blender or the hand held type. Make it as smooth or chunky as you prefer.
  8. Return the soup to a light heat and stir in the last tablespoon of butter. Season.

On a normal day you could serve this soup as is but t’is the season. Add some cream for crying out loud! We all know the rest of the meal is going to be rich. One variation I’ve tried is adding celery leaves with the watercress. Another could be a small pile of oyster mushrooms sauteed in butter placed in each bowl. Or pan seared scallops. Anyway you serve it, this soup is a champ.

So that’s it for SixTop in 2011. Thanks for all the comments, likes and tweets. We’re already looking forward to another year of posts, pics and crazy diet restriction experiments. We hope you’ll continue reading. Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year!

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Pork chops with pumpkin sauce and turnip fries

This was one of those make-it-as-you-go recipes that really turned out well. Trust me, not all do. With no formal culinary training to fall back on, I often find myself crossing my fingers and hoping for the best when spending time in the kitchen. We only post the good ones! Nothing ventured, nothing gained right? Blah blah blah. Here’s a pair of winners.

Pork chops with pumpkin sauce

  • 2 – Pork loin chops
  • 2 tbsp – Butter
  • 2 tbsp – Vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup – Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup – Pumpkin purée
  • Salt & Pepper
  1. Set oven to 350° and put your frying on a medium-high heat.
  2. Pat the chops dry before salt and peppering both sides.
  3. Add the oil and 1 tbsp butter to the pan. Wait until the butter stops foaming.
  4. Gently place the chops in the pan. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes each side to get a nice brown crust.
  5. Put the pan in the oven and let the chops get to about 150° internal temperature.
  6. Once there, remove the pan from the oven and put the chops on a clean plate and cover them with foil.
  7. Drain the fat out of the pan and put it back on the heat. Pour in the cider vinegar. Scrap the brown bits off the bottom of the pan and let them melt. Reduce the cider down about half.
  8. Add the pumpkin purée and whisk. Let the sauce reduce a little.
  9. Add the butter to finish and salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Holding the chops, pour the juice from the plate into the pan.
  11. Plate the chops and spoon on the sauce. Yum!

Turnip fries

  • 2 – Large turnips
  • 1/4 tsp – Thyme (minced)
  • 1 tbsp – Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 tbsp – Maple syrup
  1. Set oven to 350°.
  2. Trim off the turnip ends. Cut the turnips into 1/2″ french fry pieces.
  3. In a bowl toss the fries with the oil, thyme. Salt and pepper them well.
  4. Lay the fries out on a cookie sheet on a piece of foil and chuck ’em in the oven.
  5. After about 20 minutes they should be browning, take the pan out and turn them over. Pierce them with a fork to check if they’re getting there (read: cooked).
  6. After ten more minutes take the tray out and drizzle the syrup over the fries.
  7. Toss them around. You’ll see the syrup get runny. It should coated them all.
  8. Serve with the chops.

This awesome meal screamed Winter. We washed it down with Chardonnay and a few episodes of Dexter. The chops were tender and went so well with the thick pumpkin sauce. A great pairing. The turnips were the real surprise though. They tasted like turnip but also had that french fry quality which made them even more appetizing. When you’re done shoveling, make this!