Serves 8 to 10
When I think of spring, one of the vegetables that come to mind is watercress. I've used a poblano-potato base which compliments the watercress. You can make the soup vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken. The lime zest adds a hit of freshness and pulls all the flavors together. Serving it chilled makes me feel like summer is just around the corner.
3 to 4 medium (1 1/4 pound) red-skin potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 1-inch pieces
6 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 to 3 large fresh poblano chiles (depending on how hot they are)
8 ounces watercress (trim thick stems), you’ll have about 3 1/2 cups
1 1/2 ounces chives, plus extra for garnish
1/2 bunch cilantro, tops only, stems discarded (about 1 cup loosely packed) plus extra leaves for garnish
1 1/2 cups milk, plus more if you think is necessary
1 to 2 limes, grated rind only
Scoop the potatoes and garlic into a medium (3-quart) saucepan, pour in the broth and set over high heat. When the liquid boils, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking, roast the poblanos over an open flame or 4 inches below a broiler, turning regularly until blistered and blackened all over, about 5 minutes for an open flame, about 10 minutes for a broiler. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let cool until handleable. Rub the blackened skin off the chiles and pull out the stem and seed pod. Rinse the chile flesh to remove bits of skin and seeds. Place into a blender jar.
When the potatoes are tender remove from the heat and stir in the watercress. Once it’s wilted, carefully transfer some of the soup to the blender jar, taking care not to overfill since the mixture is very hot. You’ll need to blend in several batches, adding the chives and cilantro to each batch as you blend it to a smooth consistency. Pour the soup into a large bowl, stir in the milk and season with salt, usually 1 1/2 teaspoons. Refrigerate until cold. Ladle into chilled bowls, garnish with chopped chives, cilantro leaves and freshly grated lime zest.
Jill's Wine Recommendation: I love the 2009 Sitios De Bodega “Con Class” Verdejo from Rueda, Spain. It cut through the richness of the cream and brought out the citrusy lime zest.