This minty, bright-green watercress soup tastes like springtime in a bowl. Made with peas, leeks, and heaps of fresh watercress, it’s delicious both hot or cold, with a fresh, clean flavor and just a hint of pepper. 

Close up of watercress soup with croutons, mint, and a sprig of watercress on top.
Photo Credits: Ali Redmond

This watercress soup is based on a recipe I discovered years ago that called for romaine lettuce—specifically the wilted outer leaves that are usually discarded. Though I was skeptical about romaine in anything but a Lettuce Salad or Maroulosalata, my thrifty nature couldn’t resist. The OG recipe, which combined lettuce with potatoes and onions, produced an edible, if not stunning result. In the end I cheated and stirred in heavy cream, the frugal housewife fantasy I’d created of myself fading fast. 

I wasn't tempted to repeat the experiment until I had a languishing bag of watercress burning a hole in my fridge. I went all-in on the color green, replacing the onions with leeks, the potatoes with peas, and adding in a handful of fresh mint. This time it was a winner! Still mild and sweet, but with a nice peppery bite, refreshing minty flavor, and a gorgeous hue. 

While there’s still a chill in the air, I like to serve this soup piping hot, but it’s equally delicious cold. Dressed up with homemade croutons, drizzled with lemony yogurt sauce, and sprinkled with fresh mint leaves, it’s elegant enough to be served as a first course for a Mother’s Day brunch. As easy as it is to whip up, it’s also great for a busy weeknight. 

Now when the farmer’s market is full of fresh watercress, I’m excited to use it up–in both salads and soup. And I don’t always wait until my greens are starting to look worse for wear!

Table of Contents
  1. Watercress Soup Ingredients
  2. What Is Watercress?
  3. What does Watercress taste like?
  4. Benefits of Watercress
  5. How to Make Watercress Soup
  6. Ways to Mix it Up
  7. What to Serve with Watercress Soup 
  8. You'll Also Like: Veggie Soup Recipes
  9. Watercress Soup with Peas and Mint Recipe
Ingredients for watercress soup, including watercress, mint, peas, leeks, olive oil, yogurt, salt, pepper, lemon, French bread, and chicken stock.

Watercress Soup Ingredients

This is a simple soup with fresh ingredients and some pantry staples. You'll need:

  • Watercress: With its round, dark-green leaves and peppery bite, watercress becomes milder when cooked. 
  • Extra-virgin olive oil: It takes only a few tablespoons to sauté the leeks and bring out aromatic notes. Use a high-quality extra virgin variety, like any of the oils from our shop
  • Leeks: More subtle than onions, leeks add a mild, sweet flavor without overpowering the delicate taste of the peas and mint.
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper are used to bring out the flavors of the aromatic ingredients and add balance.
  • Homemade chicken stock: A homemade stock made from chicken bones, not meat, adds just the right amount of depth. But the final result should not taste like chicken! If using a hearty homemade or store-bought chicken broth, opt for a higher proportion of water to stock.
  • Fresh or frozen peas: Peas give the soup body and color. Bonus: they cook up very quickly, making this soup a quick meal.
  • Mint leaves: Mint adds the final layer of flavor, imbuing the soup with a delicate, herbaceous note and contrasting with the peppery watercress.
  • Lemon zest: Adds a floral hint without acidity. There’s not much that isn’t improved by a little lemon zest, in my opinion!
  • Greek yogurt: Provides a creamy counterpoint, and is healthier than heavy cream!
  • Lemon juice: Stirred into the yogurt, lemon juice creates a smooth, pourable texture and a splash of acid.
  • Country bread: Torn into rough pieces and baked, these croutons contrast with the silky-smooth texture of the soup.
Two bowls of watercress soup with croutons, mint, and a plate with more mint on the side.

What Is Watercress?

Watercress is a spring green, which belongs to the Brassicaceae family–the same family as kale, cabbage, and broccoli. This leafy aquatic plant is available year-round, but it's at its peak from April through June.

What does Watercress taste like?

Watercress has a peppery flavor similar to arugula or mustard greens, but with a slight tang that’s very distinct. Its unique flavor is a nice contrast with milder greens in a salad and is also tasty tucked into a sandwich. When cooked, the flavor mellows slightly but still has a little bite. 

Benefits of Watercress

Watercress is also one of the most nutritious leafy greens, containing high amounts of phytochemicals and minerals. The low-calorie green boasts particularly high levels of potassium, calcium, and vitamin C, along with far too many vitamins and minerals to list here, but head over to the USDA for a full nutritional breakdown.

Close up of watercress soup with croutons, mint, and a sprig of watercress on top. There's blue tile, a spoon with a white handle, and a glass of sparkling water.

How to Make Watercress Soup

This simple soup comes together in less than 40 minutes, is filled with nutrients, and is delicious both hot and cold. Here’s how you do it:

  • Get ready: Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  • Make the croutons: Tear 2 thick slices country bread into roughly bite-sized pieces (about 2 cups) and add to a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss well to coat, then transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Bake until croutons are golden brown, shaking the pan once halfway through, about 10 minutes. Set aside to let cool completely before using.Croutons after they've toasted, showing their golden edges.
  • Prepare the watercress: First, remove any thick stems from 10 ounces of watercress. Transfer to a large salad spinner, cover with cold water, and let sit until greens look crisp and perky. Then drain, spin dry, roughly chop them. watercress on a cutting board with a knife.
  • Sauté leeks: In a large pot, cook 1 cup of sliced leeks in extra-virgin olive oil, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper, until they soften.
  • Add liquid, peas, and watercress: Add 2 cups chicken broth and 1 ½ cups water and bring to a boil. Then add 10 ounces frozen peas and the watercress. Simmer just until tender. Watercress soup simmering in a blue pot. You can see the watercress, leeks, and peas.
  • Make yogurt sauce: While the soup is cooking, combine ½ cup Greek yogurt and 1 tablespoon lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Use a fork or small whisk to create a smooth, pourable texture.Yogurt sauce in a bowl with salt and pepper on the side.
  • Add mint and puree: Stir in ½ cup fresh mint leaves and blend in a high-speed blender until completely smooth. You can use an immersion blender for the job, but the soup won’t have the same velvety-smooth texture. 
  • Serve hot or cold: Reheat the soup over medium-low heat and thin it with a little water if too thick for your liking. (Alternatively, chill the soup overnight before serving cold.) Season it again with salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper. Then garnish with croutons and a drizzle or dollop of lemony Greek yogurt sauce. Scatter mint leaves on top for some extra flavor and texture! One bowl of watercress soup with four croutons on top and more croutons on the side.

Ways to Mix it Up

You can certainly play around with this recipe based on what you have on hand. Some suggestions: 

  • Leeks: While I love the mild flavor of leeks, you can build a savory flavor base with onions, shallots, or even scallions. 
  • Greens: Arugula or baby spinach can stand in for the watercress, and there’s nothing wrong with using the droopy outer leaves of that head of romaine sitting at the bottom of the crisper! 
  • Stock: Swap the chicken stock with water for a vegetarian version–a flavor-rich vegetable broth isn’t necessary for this delicate soup.
  • Herbs: Mint is a traditional partner to peas, but the more assertive flavor of fresh dill is lovely in this soup as well.
Side shot of a bowl of watercress soup with croutons, mint and a drizzle of Greek yogurt on top.

What to Serve with Watercress Soup 

When strawberries are in season in late spring, I like to serve this soup with Strawberry Spinach Salad. For a simple weeknight dinner, pair with Mozzarella and Feta Pita Grilled Cheese and don’t try to stop yourself from dunking the melty pitas in the delicious soup!

If you’re serving as a first course in your Mother’s Day lunch, it’s lovely chilled and presented in pretty shot glasses. Follow it up with these super-yummy Persian Saffron and Yogurt Chicken Kebabs and Middle Eastern Rice Pilaf with Peas and Carrots.

You'll Also Like: Veggie Soup Recipes

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Watercress Soup with Peas and Mint

Abigail Chipley headshot.Abigail Chipley
Close up of watercress soup with croutons, mint, and a sprig of watercress on top.
Serve this minty, peppery, vibrant green soup as a dinner party appetizer in small shot glasses, or as a first course or light lunch. Both hot and cold works well, but if you'd like the cold version make sure to give yourself at least 2 hours to chill it in your refrigerator.
Prep – 20 minutes
Cook – 15 minutes
Total – 35 minutes
Cuisine:
French, Meditrranean
Serves – 4
Course:
Soup

Ingredients
  

For the Croutons

  • 2 thick slices country bread
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly and ground pepper

For the Soup

  • 8 cups (10 ounces) watercress
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced leeks, white and light green parts only
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock, homemade or quality low-sodium store bought, see note
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) frozen peas
  • Zest of one lemon
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves, firmly packed, plus extra for serving

Instructions
 

  • Get ready: Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  • Make the croutons: Tear the bread into roughly bite-sized pieces (about 2 cups) and add to a large bowl. Add the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss well to coat, then transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Bake until croutons are golden brown, shaking the pan once halfway through, about 10 minutes. Set aside to let cool completely before using.
  • Wash and crisp the watercress: Remove the thick stems off the watercress and place in a salad spinner. Cover with cold water and set aside until the greens look crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain, spin dry, and roughly chop.
  • Boil then simmer: In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock and 1 ½ cups water. Turn the heat to high to bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and add the peas and watercress. Cover and simmer over low heat until the peas are tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Make the yogurt garnish: While the soup is cooking, combine the yogurt and lemon juice in a small bowl. Season generously with salt and ground pepper. Mix well with a whisk or fork until the consistency is smooth and pourable (add a splash of water if your yogurt is very thick).
  • Puree the soup: Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the mint leaves just until wilted. Transfer to a blender and purée until completely smooth, leaving a gap at the top and the steam cap off and starting slow. Thin with up to ½ cup water if the consistency of the soup is too thick for your liking. If you’re serving hot, return the soup to the pot, and if necessary, reheat over medium-low heat. Otherwise, allow to cool completely, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (cover and refrigerate the yogurt too).
  • Finish and serve: Serve garnished with croutons, a dollop of the yogurt sauce, and extra mint leaves.

Notes

  • If using a hearty homemade or store-bought chicken broth, opt for a higher proportion of water to stock. Vegetable broth or stock will be too overpowering for the watercress’ delicate flavor, so opt for only water instead for a vegetarian version. 
  • To clean the leeks: Leeks can hide grit in between layers that can be hard to rinse off.  After slicing off the root end and dark green leaves (save these to throw into a chicken stock or vegetable stock!), halve the leeks lengthwise and then slice crosswise into half-moons. Then transfer the leeks to a bowl of ice-cold water and swish until the sandy bits fall to the bottom. Scoop the leeks out using your hands into a colander and shake to dry.You can substitute the watercress with other greens like arugula, spinach, or romaine.
  • For a dairy free option: Leave off the yogurt and finish with a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze the lemon juice directly on top of the soup. 
  • For gluten free option: Leave off the croutons or use gluten-free bread. Toasted nuts, like hazelnuts or almonds, would also add a nice gluten-free crunch.
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 274.2kcalCarbohydrates: 27.4gProtein: 13.1gFat: 13.2gSaturated Fat: 2.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.8gMonounsaturated Fat: 8.5gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 4.8mgSodium: 284.8mgPotassium: 658.3mgFiber: 5.9gSugar: 8.7gVitamin A: 3339.5IUVitamin C: 64.4mgCalcium: 175.7mgIron: 2.8mg
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Abigail is a trained chef and writer whose work has appeared in Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, Real Simple, Vegetarian Times, and Foodnetwork.com. She has also contributed to cookbooks, including Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, Everyday Food: Great Food Fast, and Real Simple’s Easy, Delicious Home Cooking: 250 Recipes for Every Season and Occasion.
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4 from 2 votes

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Comments

  1. Drew says:

    5 stars
    Hi there, might I ask if watercress mint soup generally served as a cold dish? This site and app is amazing I've transformed my everyday for the better with the recipes here

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Drew! This soup is equally amazing whether served hot or cold :).

  2. A says:

    3 stars
    I absolutely love the Mediterranean Dish! The recipes are consistently wonderful and healthy. This one, however, was a little less tasty, and my family asked that I not make it again. Granted, we are not vegetarians and this was the first time we had had watercress. Also, just a tip, if you're trying this for the first time, it seemed to take longer than suggested. Even without making the breadcrumbs from scratch, the recipe took me about an hour to make (washing and soaking all the greens and juicing the lemon, waiting for the boiling, and blending to make smooth). Hope this helps!

  3. Ladda Drankiewicz says:

    I love the leeks soup and I am sure that watercress soup peas and mint would be very good too. I am living in Thailand and most ingredients are not the as in US.

  4. Denise says:

    Love the idea of the Water resd/ Pea soup for spring!
    Anyway to get the carbs or fat content down?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Denise. The biggest contributor to the carbs and fat here would be the bread and oil, so you could play with those things a bit to try to reduce those counts.