Will your watercress soup reign supreme?

DELIA makes it with leeks, potatoes and crème fraiche; Raymond Blanc uses onions, leeks, garlic and spinach and adds ice cubes to retain the bright green colour,while Nick Nairn uses cornflour to thicken and double cream to taste... Watercress soup; it’s a classic, but which variation is the best?

Could it be that your family recipe surpasses them all?

This year at the 9th annual Watercress Festival in Alresford on Sunday May 20, you have the opportunity to show the world what you can do as the search for the ultimate watercress soup takes place, with the winner earning the title of World Watercress Soup Champion 2012.

Organisers of the Festival are encouraging festival goers, together with restaurateurs and food producers, to come armed with their very own version of watercress soup to tantalise the tastebuds and be judged!

The judging panel for the Championships comprises celebrity chef Sophie Grigson, Kate Hughes, founder of Cook Academy and an ex-senior tutor at Leith’s School of Fo od and Wine in London, together with a representative from the Watercress Alliance, the Festival’s principal sponsors. It is their task to select the best variant on the traditional classic, but also the best speciality watercress soup. This could be a watercress based soup but which features other unusual or interesting ingredients.

Entrants should bring their soup in a flask from 10am onwards on Sunday 20 May to the Cook Academy kitchens in Alresford. Participants should also bring a completed entry form which is available to download from the Watercress Festival website, together with the competition rules of entry. No entries will be admitted after 11.45am and judging will take place between 12 noon and 12.45pm.

The winners of both the classic watercress soup and the speciality soup will be announced on the day and presented with a stunning ‘golden’ ladle plus a cash prize of £500 each.

Charles Barter,of the Watercress Alliance said: “Watercress soup is one of Britain’s best known dishes – served hot or cold. It's healthy and easy to cook, and remains the most searched for recipe on our watercress website. Everyone has their personal quirk that makes it their own and we want to capture as many of these as possible. We challenge the Great British public to bring us the best watercress soup they have to offer.”

Grown in flowing spring water,these days watercress is truly recognised as a super food for a super you! Packed with 15 health giving vitamins and nutrients, watercress not only supports the immune system but it improves the condition of skin and hair to help you look good, and research even suggests that it could play an important role in the field of cancer prevention.

To inspire any possible ‘golden’ ladlers out there, check out the watercress website, www.watercress.

co.uk for a range of delicious watercress soup recipes and to download the entry form and official rules for the competition. Good luck!

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