Starter: serves 8. Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes
This recipe makes plenty, as you can be certain that seconds will be asked for. Please don't be tempted to liquidise this particular soup; I always find that it makes it too gloopy.

2 onions, peeled and sliced
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3 leeks, white part only, sliced, washed and drained
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4-5 tender and white celery stalks (taken from the heart of the vegetable)
200g white button mushrooms, sliced
2 courgettes, peeled and diced
4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
2 bunches watercress, roughly chopped, with stalks
salt and pepper
2 medium-size floury potatoes, peeled, diced and well washed
2 litres good chicken
400ml whipping cream (approximately)

Melt the butter in a large pan and add the next nine ingredients. Season generously. Allow the vegetables to wilt and begin to stew while also stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Once they are all sloppy and juicy looking, put on a lid and allow to cook ever so gently for about 25 minutes, once again, stirring from time to time. Now add the potatoes and stock and bring up to a slow simmer. Remove any scum that appears on the surface and then continue simmering for a further 20 minutes without the lid.

Pass through the finest blade of a mouli-legumes into a clean pan, while also making sure that every last vestige of juice and liquid has been extracted from the resultant mulch. Now pass through a common or garden round sieve back in to the (well rinsed out) original cooking pan, using the back of a ladle; do not use a fine sieve, as this will hold back too many solids essential to the soup's final consistency.

Quietly reheat and stir in as much of the given cream as makes you happy with both consistency and richness. Adjust seasoning and serve up in heated soup plates. Good bread and butter rather than croutons here, don't you think?