The Raymond Blanc Cookery School, Oxfordshire
As the first Michelin-starred kitchen in the UK with its own cookery school, The Raymond Blanc Cookery School offers a hands-on opportunity to develop your culinary skills.
Many courses focus on recipes important to Raymond Blanc, showcasing dishes that inspired him to become the Michelin-starred chef he is today. Passionate food-lovers and kitchen novices alike can join on this voyage of gastronomic discovery.
The school itself is located within the 2-Michelin starred kitchen, so you are never far away from the thrill of service, but courses are suitable for all experience levels. At the centre of them all are recipes close to Raymond’s heart.
Purchase Greatest British Cookery School Gift Vouchers redeemable at all ICSA member schools below.
Oxfordshire heritage meets French flair. Le Manoir is tucked away in the picturesque Oxfordshire countryside, this 15th-century manor sets the standard for haute cuisine
Maître de maison, Raymond Blanc’s passion permeates throughout the hotel and cookery school—from the individually-designed suites to the menus in the two Michelin-starred restaurant. Lush gardens are an abundance of colour in summer, while the honey-hued manor is warmed by open fires through winter. It is truly a house for all seasons.
Since opening in 1984, the manor has earned itself a global reputation for fine gastronomy. But its prominence is more than just about what’s on the plate. Rooms are imagined by prestigious UK interior designers. Fragrant orchards and a mushroom valley elicit awe. An annual Festival of Music promises a feast for ears and appetite. Your experience at the cookery school will certainly be one to remember.
This simple soup brings out all the qualities of watercress; fresh, tangy and peppery.
Serves (Yield): 4
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Special equipment: Blender
This can be made 1 day in advance, but it is always better when it is made just before serving.
20g / 1 tbsp Butter, unsalted
100g / ½x Finely chopped onion
400g / 4 bunches Watercress (*1), large bunches, stalks removed
100g / 1 handful Spinach, washed and picked
8g / 8 pinches Sea Salt
1g / 2 pinches freshly ground black pepper
750ml Boiling Water (*2)
750ml Ice (*3)
On a low heat, sweeten the onion in the butter for 8 minutes until softened and translucent. Turn up the heat, add ¾ watercress (reserving some of the leaves to add to the soup at the last moment) and spinach and wilt for 2 minutes. Add the water (boiling), season with the sea salt and pepper and quick boil for 2 minutes. Purée in a liquidiser until very smooth and add the reserved ¼ of watercress to taste (*4).
Reheat, taste and correct the seasoning if required – serve immediately, piping hot to your guests in a large soup tureen.
According to the variety, the watercress may vary in its strength of flavour. If your watercress is very peppery, cut off the entire stalk, but if it is mild, keep some of the stalk.
The boiling water speeds up the making of the soup and retains the colour and flavour of the watercress.
The ice stops the cooking, which will keep the vivid colour, the flavour and the nutrients. Reheat the soup at the last moment for the same reasons.
Adding the raw watercress at the last minute increases the fresh flavour of the watercress and increases the nutritional content derived from the raw phytonutrients in the watercress
As a good Frenchman, I would be tempted to add a clove of pureed garlic or flakes of toasted garlic to the soup. A tablespoon of Greek yoghurt would be a nice addition.
The technique of cooking and retaining the colour, the flavour answers all of the rules of nutrition as you get the best of both raw (higher vitamin C & phytonutrient content) and cooked (Carotenes and lutein better absorbed)
Watercress is an excellent source of vitamin A & vitamin C and iron
Onion, leeks and garlic are all members of the allium family all good sources of vitamin B6, vitamin C and minerals but it is the sulphur compounds which are of particular interest.
Watercress is a cruciferous vegetable and shares the rich nutrition profile of all the brassica family. The brassicas have the some of the highest antioxidants in particular the glucosinolates which help to increase the natural detoxifying enzymes in the body. These in turn get rid of harmful chemicals and hormones. The brassicas also contain the phytonutrient the indol-3-carbinol which has shown to increase the rate of oestrogen breakdown in the liver – therefore and important food group fro women.
Onion, leeks and garlic Many modern scientific studies have demonstrated positive effects in reducing atherosclerosis & heart disease. The sulphur compounds in particular Allicin acts to reduce total serum cholesterol and increase HDL and reduce blood pressure. Garlic has a reputation as natures antibiotic as its effects are antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal.