Are you still in a post-holiday food coma? Did too many jelly beans, chocolate eggs or bunny ears make their way into your mouth? This green soup is a wonderful and delicious way to feel like you've wiped the slate clean and cleansed your system. With several kinds of pepper added to spice it up; croutons, chive or cheese garnishes, you can convert even the most skeptical family member.
There's a new television commercial that shows a girl looking at a green smoothie with a nauseated look on her face and she opts to take a vitamin pill instead. Sad. I happen to love green smoothies - especially this recipe that I posted last summer.
I wasn't sure if my husband would have that same look on his face, but he ate two bowls of this soup! I'll look forward to making it again when really fresh greens hit the farmers' markets. I used Swiss Chard and baby spinach but feel free to use kale instead of spinach or any combination of greens you like. The good earth is the limit here!
The recipe was created by Anna Thomas, a screenwriter, producer and vegetarian cookbook author. Love Soup is her most recent cookbook and this soup is from that book. Here is an article written for the LA Times by Anna Thomas about her green soup , how it developed, and all the various ways she makes it. One version that caught my eye includes mushrooms for a more 'earthy' flavor. This recipe has a little Arborio rice added for bulk (an idea I found in our local newspaper) but cooked potato or squash could also be used according to the author.
Makes: 8 to 10 servings
Well-caramelized onions add a sweet and nutty flavor to this healthy soup. Arborio rice gives it a little extra 'body'. The peppers give it a nice "zing". A squeeze of fresh lemon juice, added to the plated bowl, adds brightness to the flavors and a little drizzle of olive oil, a velvety lushness.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions (about 1 ½ pounds), chopped
1 ¼ teaspoons salt (divided)
2 tablespoons plus 3 cups water - divided)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup Arborio rice
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and chopped (about ¾ pound)
1 bunch fresh spinach, large stems removed and chopped
(Kale can also be used - or any greens of your choice)
4 cups vegetable broth or stock (I used low-fat chicken stock)
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Shaved Gruyere, snipped chives and croutons for garnish (optional)
Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet with a lid. Add onions and ¼ teaspoon salt. Over medium-high heat, stir onions frequently until they begin to brown. Reduce heat to low, add 2 tablespoons water, and cover. From time to time, remove the lid and give them a good stir. Continue cooking until onions are very soft and a deep golden color - this will take 30 to 45 minutes. When the onions are almost done, add garlic and cook until fragrant, a few minutes. Remove from heat.
In a separate large stockpot, add remaining 3 cups water and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in rice and bring to a boil, reduce and let simmer 15 minutes. Add greens, stir, return to a simmer and cover. Let greens wilt and settle 10 minutes.
Add onions to stockpot and stir in stock or broth. Add seasonings and blend soup until very smooth with an immersion blender or in a regular blender (in small batches).
Add lemon juice to taste after plating. Garnish each bowl with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and if desired, croutons, chives and/or cheese.