Spanish potaje de berros: this is a classic Canarian watercress soup with corn, pork belly, saffron, green beans, chickpeas and carrots. A chunky meal soup straight from the middle of the Atlantic ocean! Dig in!
Now here, this potaje de berros (Spanish for watercress soup) was on my long recipes-to-try long list for quite some time. The reason behind why it took me so long to make? The lack of the right watercress (berros in Spanish) for this delicious and wholesome meal soup.
But here I am again, in Tenerife and this time I have to make it work.
Because berros is very popular here.
You can find it in every supermarket and at every farmers market. Reason enough to start cooking!
Do you like watercress?
I love its crunch and freshness.
The watercress here is quite fatty and velvety. I often add a bit of it to a salad, just to give it that extra bit of punch. In Belgium however if you talk about watercress (waterkers in Flemish), people only know it as the tiny watercress sprouts.
You find them in supermarkets in small plastic boxes. Their tiny stems and roots are still sitting in soil.
So that’s what people think of: we use that type of baby watercress mainly as a garnish. The French do have 2 different words for it though: cresson is watercress and cressonette is baby watercress.
Easy Potaje de Berros (Canarian Watercress Soup)
So I went to my local Mercadona supermarket here in Tenerife and bought a bunch of watercress to start cooking my soup.
Other main ingredients I need here: potatoes, beans (chickpeas or white beans), carrots (green beans are also added sometimes), cooked corn cobs, pork and… saffron.
In the Canary islands (especially on La Gomera) this watercress soup is sprinkled with freshly chopped raw onion and a tablespoon of gofio, a local flour of wheat or corn.
Are you looking for more Canarian recipes?
Then also check out my frangollo dessert!
Potaje de Berros Recipe
Spanish potaje de berros: a classic Canarian watercress soup with corn, pork belly, saffron, green beans, chickpeas and carrots.
- 8 cups chicken stock (2 l), warm
- 2 bunches fresh watercress chopped
- 10,5 oz waxy potatoes (300 g), peeled and chopped
- 10,5 oz pork belly (300 g)
- 6 whole garlic cloves peeled
- 2 cobs of corn cooked
- 7 oz canned chickpeas (200 g), drained weight
- a handful green beans sliced
- 1 medium fresh carrot diced
- a little pinch of saffron threads
- olive oil
In a high non-stick pan pour a generous splash of olive oil and add the whole garlic cloves.
Place the pan over medium-high heat and fry the garlic for 2 minutes. Then add the salted pork belly and a pinch of pepper.
Brown the pork on both sides for 4 to 5 minutes. Then pour in the warm chicken stock.
Bring this to a rolling boil and then turn the heat lower. Season with a little pinch of pepper. Cook for 30 minutes. Stir regularly. Then add the chopped potatoes and the drained chickpeas.
Stir the ingredients and let them all cook for another 10 minutes. Add the cooked corn cobs (you can chop them up into smaller pieces, makes it easier to serve later on), the chopped carrots and string beans.
Cook for another 7 to 10 minutes until all the ingredients are tender. Then take the soup off the heat. Remove a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid and soak the saffron in it for 2 minutes. Then add the saffron liquid back to the pan. Stir in the chopped watercress.
Check the seasoning and add extra pepper or salt to taste if necessary. Take the pan off the heat and ladle the soup into deep bowls. Serve piping hot.