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    Watercress Soup with a Mushroom and Spinach Beignet

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    Watercress Soup with a Mushroom and Spinach Beignet

    "At The Artichoke Restaurant in Old Amersham," writes Claire Bunting of Amersham, Buckinghamshire, "we had a fantastic watercress soup with a mushroom beignet. I've never had soup like it. Is the chef willing to share the recipe?" Laurie Gear, chef-director of The Artichoke, kindly obliged.

    • Preparation time: 90 minutes
    • Cooking time: 10 minutes
    • Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes 60 minutes 40 minutes

    Serves: 8 as a starter


    • Beignets
    • 500g flat mushrooms
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
    • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
    • 16 large baby spinach leaves
    • 1 tsp caster sugar
    • 7g sachet fast-action yeast
    • 100g plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
    • Vegetable oil for deep frying
    • Soup
    • 4 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
    • 2 large onions, chopped
    • 2.5 litres chicken stock
    • 6 bunches watercress
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 2 tbsp olive oil


    1. Sweat the potatoes and onions in the oil in a large pan on a medium-low heat. When the onions are soft, add the stock. Simmer until the potatoes are soft. Remove from the heat. Add the watercress to the hot stock and leave for 3 minutes to wilt. Purée.
    2. Make the beignet: finely chop the mushrooms in a food processor. Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and sweat the shallot and garlic until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook until their liquid evaporates (about 25 minutes).
    3. Season, cool then roll into 8 balls the size of small eggs.
    4. Pour boiling water over the spinach leaves to wilt them. Dry the leaves on kitchen paper, then wrap 2 leaves around each mushroom ball.
    5. Make the batter: mix the sugar, yeast and a pinch of salt with 150ml warm water, add to the flour and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.
    6. Heat vegetable oil in a deep pan to 175°C or until a cube of bread turns golden in 30 seconds. Dip the mushroom balls in flour, then in the batter and fry for 2-3 minutes until golden. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm. Reheat the soup and pour into a jug. Put the beignets in warm bowls and serve, so each guest can pour soup around their beignet.

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