Spinach Soup – Eat Your Greens

After a spell of overindulgence, there’s nothing our bodies crave more than vegetables and especially green ones.   In all shapes and forms, greens are good for us and the greener, the better.

Today’s column runs with a recipe for Spinach Soup and it’s variations.  The soup is a brilliant emerald-green and scrumptious and warm all at the same time.  My favorite variation is the Spinach with Cannellini Beans and Chicken.  It’s one where you could use leftover chicken and add it at the very end or sauté a chicken breast or two along with making the rest of the soup.

Spinach Soup photo

Spinach, Cannelli Beans and Chicken Soup
This soup is a gorgeous, bright green, and should be served immediately. If you would like to make it ahead, prepare everything, up to adding the spinach. When you are ready to serve, heat the soup to a simmer and purée with spinach in the blender as per the directions.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced onions; about 1 medium onion
1 1/2 cups diced celery; about 2 stalks
1 cup peeled and diced parsnips; about 2 parsnips
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 ounces spinach leaves, de-stemmed and well washed; about 3 cups lightly packed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
14 ounces chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces; about 2 chicken breast halves
1, 15-ounce can cannellini beans
Garnish with minced chives or a swirl of crème frâiche

In a medium stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables, salt and pepper and sauté until they become soft and translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil.  Add the stock and again bring to a boil.

Place the uncooked spinach leaves in the blender and pour the hot stock over the leaves.  Carefully purée in a blender.  Meanwhile, heat the second 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the stock pot over medium-high heat and add the chicken.  When the chicken is just cooked through, add the beans to heat and then the pureed stock back into the pot.  Mix well, turn off heat and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

Eatin’ My Greens Too!

Cook the Book: Italian Sausage Soup

Italian Sausage Soup

Sometimes I have leftover roasted garlic and I use it in place of the fresh garlic.  If you have an herb garden like I do, then by all means use fresh herbs in place of the dried.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices (or hot if you want a spicier soup)
2 large onions, diced
9 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 zucchini, quartered and chopped
1 summer squash, quartered and chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup red wine
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
4 to 5 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup cream (optional)
2 cups chopped spinach or kale

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage and sauté until brown. Add the onions, garlic, salt, pepper and herbs and continue to cook until the onions are translucent.  Add the zucchini and summer squash and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, wine, tomatoes, stock and optional cream; simmer for 45 minutes.  Add more stock if needed.  If you are using spinach, add it and cook another minute or two.  If you are using kale, add it and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Serves 4-6

Quick & Easy Hearty Soup – Root Vegetable Soup with Miso

This steaming, hearty soup-for-dinner recipe is easy and fairly quick.  Just add salad and crusty bread and you’ve got a great dinner.

While soups are all very simple to make, what makes any soup flavorful is the time that you take at the beginning to develop the flavor.  I mention this often, taking time in the kitchen, with ingredients.  What this means is that you need to go slowly at the beginning to really cook the vegetables well.  You want them to at least be tender, but even better, you want a little browning on the bottom of the pan.  It’s a challenge to write this into a recipe, because you don’t want to brown the vegetables completely, what you are looking for is that little circle of brown that blooms on the bottom of your stockpot when some of you think you might have cooked your veggies too long.  This actually has a name and it’s called “fond.”  I call it the “yummy good stuff’ and it is what will make your soup really good in addition to warm and nourishing.

Root Vegetable Soup with Miso

This is a simple, but satisfying soup.  My girls ate this one for several days in a row.  THEY asked for it over and over.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled
4 carrots, peeled
1 sweet potato, peeled
3 medium red potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups low salt vegetable stock
3 tablespoons miso paste
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce

Cut all vegetables into 1 inch chunks.  Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add vegetables and sauté for 10-15 minutes.  Add the salt and pepper and then the stock.  Add the miso and tamari and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Serves 4-6

The Fall Bounty – Creamy Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

Creamy Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup onions, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash (or 1/2 butternut squash), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pear, peeled, cored and minced
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup sherry
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, over medium high heat, melt butter and sauté the onions, celery and garlic.  When they are translucent, add the squash, pear and nutmeg.  Sauté until the squash starts to stick to the bottom, stirring frequently and then add the sherry, chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the squash is very tender, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a blender and puree.  Freeze for up to 6 weeks.  When you are ready to serve, bring to a simmer in a medium saucepan and then add the cream.

Serves 8

Cook the Book: Black Bean & Jasmine Rice Soup

Black Bean & Jasmine Rice Soup

We often serve this soup with Pico de Gallo.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, diced
1 large green pepper, seeded and diced
1 dried Ancho chili, reconstituted and minced
9 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 16-ounce can black beans
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup jasmine rice

Sour cream
Lime wedges
Coarsely chopped cilantro

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized stockpot over medium-high heat; add the onions, peppers, garlic, cumin and salt to the pot and cook until the onions are translucent.  Add the remaining ingredients except for the rice and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Add the jasmine rice and simmer for another 15 minutes.  Add additional stock or water if needed. Garnish with sour cream, lime wedges, and cilantro.

Serves 4-6

Cook the Book – Spinach Gorgonzola Soup

Spinach & Gorgonzola Soup

1/4  cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 large onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons thyme
4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
5 ounces spinach, washed and julienned
2 cups peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes

Melt the butter in a stockpot over medium-high heat; add the onion, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the Gorgonzola and chicken stock; bring the stock to a simmer then purée it in a blender or food processor. Place the spinach in the stockpot and cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and puréed stock, simmer, and serve.

Serves 4-6

Cook the Book – Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushroom Barley Soup

3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup pearled barley
6 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
1/3 cup tamari
1/3 cup dry sherry

Melt the butter in a medium sized stockpot over medium heat; add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender. Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring the soup to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until the barley is completely cooked. Serve.

Serves 6-8