Dorset-based business The Watercress Company is looking to raise the health boosting profile of the under-used leaf vegetable in trials of a nutrient-dense watercress soup at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester.
Tom Amery, MD of the Watercress Company, explains: “The importance of nutritious food for hospital patients has been discussed for years, with chefs such as Lloyd Grossman, Albert Roux, James Martin and, most recently, Prue Leith all supporting campaigns for its improvement. However, it has always proved difficult. We have developed a recipe for a nutrient-dense watercress soup with high energy and protein levels that is rich in vitamins and minerals – literally what the doctor ordered! It is easy to consume, tasty and, most importantly, it can be made within the existing financial constraints of the current daily meal budget provided to hospital catering teams.”
Packed full of 50+ essential vitamins and minerals, watercress tops several nutritional scales; it scores full marks on ‘The powerhouse fruits and vegetables list’ created by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and a full 1000/1000 on the Aggregate Nutrient Index (ANDI) Scale.
Watercress is also recognised as a natural source of fibre, and naturally high in protein, as well as in a range of vital anti-oxidants called glucosinolates and flavonoids.
While all age groups can benefit from the different nutrients that watercress can provide, the elderly are a key target group due to its high levels of iron and vitamins C and A.
The watercress used in the soup on trial has come from UK grown winter crop which is not currently sold as the leaf is larger and the stems are thicker, but the company says this is the perfect crop for being whizzed into a soup. The ultimate aim is for the fresh soup to be frozen into blocks with all the other ingredients to which hot water simply needs to be added before blending, making the meal preparation simple for the catering teams. This way a consistent product can be available all year round.
Ultimately, The Watercress Company intends to develop a range of nutrient dense soups using different ingredients all featuring watercress.