Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 24, 2022

© Christopher Hirsheimer

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Watercress and almond soup

The late cookbook author Theodora FitzGibbon adapted this recipe from “a handwritten recipe book, 1735;” she doesn’t specify the family name or county. She does note, though, in Irish Traditional Food, that “almonds were immensely popular in richer homes in 18th-century Ireland.” Watercress is a far more ancient food in Ireland, eaten since prehistoric times.

1 c. (250 ml) milk
1 c. (250 ml) heavy cream
rind of 1 lemon, in 1 piece if possible, pith removed
½ c. (125 ml) ground almonds
2 tbsp. (30 g) butter
2 c. (500 ml) minced celery heart
2 tbsp. (30 ml) white flour
2½ c. (625 ml) homemade or store-bought chicken stock
salt and white pepper
2 bunches watercress, trimmed

Combine the milk and cream in a small saucepan over high heat. Add the lemon rind and almonds. Bring almost to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside to infuse for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium pot over low heat, add the celery and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Add the stock in a slow, steady stream, and cook for 5 minutes, continuing to stir until the sauce thickens.

Strain the infused milk into the stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the watercress and continue to cook for 6 to 8 minutes more. Purée in a food processor or blender. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve hot or cold. Serves 4.

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