"More green, less everything else." That was Anna Thomas' plan when she created her first green soup with mixed greens, fresh herbs, onions and potatoes. She'd stumbled onto a diet-changing discovery: Green soups are delicious, and incredibly good for you!
If you're tired of chopping and dressing your greens for salad, sick of steaming them and serving them as sides, why not do what Anna did and reinvent them as a main course? Use potatoes, rice and other starches to thicken your soups, chop cabbage like noodles, or chill up an herby gazpacho.
Green soup may not be the most attractive food you've seen, but it is without a doubt one of the healthiest—and with the right recipe, it's naturally delicious without a lot of salt and fat. Here's a recipe for a basic green soup; see more green soup recipes at Eating Well, or try OA's Broccolini and Spinach Soup, Wild Creek Cress Soup or Vegan Vegetable Soup.
Serves about 8
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 teaspoon of salt, divided
2 tablespoons plus 3 cups of water, divided
1/4 cup of arborio rice
1 bunch of green chard (about 1 pound)
14 cups of gently packed spinach (about 12 ounces), any tough stems trimmed
4 cups of vegetable broth, store-bought or homemade
A big pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of lemon juice, or more to taste
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon of salt; saute until the onions begin to brown. Reduce the heat to low, add 2 tablespoons of water and cover. Stir frequently until the pan cools down, and then occasionally, always covering the pan again, until the onions are greatly reduced and have a deep caramel color, 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining 3 cups of water and 3/4 teaspoon of salt in a soup pot or Dutch oven; add the rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Trim the white ribs out of the chard (save them for another use, such as to add to a stir-fry or other soup). Coarsely chop the chard greens and spinach.
When the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, stir in the chard greens. Return the pot to a simmer; cover and cook for 10 minutes.
When the onions are caramelized, stir a little of the simmering liquid into them; add them to the rice along with the spinach, broth and cayenne. Return to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring once, until the spinach is tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes more.
Puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender until perfectly smooth or in a regular blender in batches (return it to the pot). Stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice, if desired.
Garnish each bowl of soup with a drizzle of olive oil.
Recipe reprinted from Eating Well.
Image: Edsel Little