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I love love LOVE this soup! It is satisfying, creamy, umami, with TONS of nutrition. It is also a great way to use up A LOT of greens. You could even make this soup when there are too many greens, freeze it in pint jars, and bring it to work for lunch throughout the year!
I originally heard about it on the Splendid Table. I have copied it below, and made note of my changes… Also, I usually only follow a recipe the first time, and then customize from there. However, what is written down below is SO GOOD that I have made multiple batches following the exact same steps. While I was visiting a friend I made it with olive oil instead of coconut oil and basmati rice instead of arborio rice. It was good, but it didn’t have the same creamy and super satisfying mouth-feel as it does when I make it at home. So, for best results, spring for the specialized ingredients listed below!
Basic Green Soup
To make ahead: Prepare through Step 4 (omitting the lemon), cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Season with lemon just before serving.
This kale, chard and spinach soup gets complex flavor from slowly cooked onions and lemon juice, while a sprinkle of rice gives it body and a velvety texture. Serve with a swirl of fruity, fragrant extra-virgin olive oil for richness.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish [I USE COCONUT OIL INSTEAD. IT IS A HEALTHIER COOKING OIL AND MAKES IT TASTE RICHER & MORE UMAMI. Unrefined coconut oil tastes and smells coconutty, while the refined coconut oil does not taste nor smell. Both are healthy high temperature oils and either will work well in this recipe. Save the olive oil for garnish & dipping bread in.]
- 2 large yellow onions, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons plus 3 cups water, divided
- 1/4 cup arborio rice (the kind used to make creamy risotto)
- GREENS. Aim for 1.75 - 2 pounds total, which is:
- one (=~1/2#) bunch of KALE. I recommend the Dino/Lacinato variety, which has more slender & darker leaves than the frilly kinds. It has the most nutrition of any kind of kale. Here is a nice article about the amazingness of Kale.
- one (=~1/2#) bunch of CHARD (stems removed) or BEET GREENS
- and ~14 cups (=~3/4#) gently packed SPINACH leaves (tough stems removed). For price and convenience, I recommend buying a bag of frozen spinach, which at my co.op comes already in the needed 12oz size, without any tough stems included.
- 4 cups vegetable broth, store-bought or homemade [I USE CHICKEN BROTH, WHICH AGAIN MAKES IT TASTE RICHER AND MORE UMAMI.]
- Big pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste
- Heat a generous 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low, add 2 tablespoons water and cover. Cook, stirring 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. [They basically turn into onion jelly, and add a lovely deep flavor to the soup.]
- Meanwhile, combine the remaining 3 cups water and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a soup pot or Dutch oven; add 1/4 cup arborio rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
- Trim the central rib out of the chard and kale leaves (save for another use, such as to add to a stir-fry or other soup). [One easy way to do this is to hold the end of the stem with one hand, circle the stem with your other hand and pull toward the end of the leaf, stripping the leaf from the stem.]
- Coarsely chop the thicker chard and kale greens.
- Coarsely chop the spinach leaves [if using fresh] and leave in a separate pile from the other greens. [If using frozen, you can skip this step and just be ready to open the bag and empty the contents into the pot later.]
- When the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, stir in the chard and kale greens. Return to a simmer; cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- When the onions are caramelized, stir a little water or some of the simmering liquid into them, loosening the scrapings on the bottom of the pan;
- Add onions to the rice along with the spinach, 4 cups broth and the big pinch of cayenne. [Note, if using bouillion instead of broth, I add it back in Step 7 so it has time to dissolve in the boiling water as the tougher greens cook.]
- 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 lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice, if desired. Garnish each bowl of soup with a drizzle of olive oil.
- FALL IN LOVE WITH THIS SOUP!
CSA member Amy says:
“This is the best soup ever! I used nonfat yogurt instead of cream and chard instead of spinach (cause that’s what was in the CSA box). Maybe a titch more lemon juice, but just a titch. Yum! Enjoy!”
Garlic Scape Soup
From Super Natural Cooking, by Heidi Swanson
2 tablespoons clarified butter or extra-virgin olive oil
2 dozen garlic scapes, flower buds discarded and green shoots chopped
3 large russet potatoes, unpeeled and cut into ½ inch dice
5 cups vegetable stock or water
2 large handfuls spinach leaves, stemmed
Juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup heavy cream (optional)
Chive blossoms, for garnish (optional)
Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the scapes and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and stock, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through and beginning to break down.
Remove from the heat, add the spinach, and puree using a hand blender. (If you must use a conventional blender, be careful; the hot liquid can burst out the top and make a huge, potentially painful mess. Try leaving the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape. Cover the top with a kitchen towel and blend in batches at low speed.) Season with the lemon juice, salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Whisk in the cream for a silkier texture. If the soup tastes flat, add salt a few big pinches at a time until the flavors really pop. Serve garnished with the chive blossoms.