Ashley Strickland is an associate producer at CNN.com. She likes cajoling recipes from athletes and studying up on food holidays.
After the “office funk” attacked for the third time this fall, I decided to take action. I needed to find an antioxidant powerhouse with the strength to fight off any and all germs and allergies. The usual suspects just weren’t cutting it and I needed a new weapon.
During my frantic search, I stumbled upon something with such a miraculous list of healthy ingredients, I couldn’t say no. And last week, I’m proud to say that green soup entered my life.
An inspiring story behind one woman’s quest to lift her spirits and lose weight in Eating Well magazine caught my eye, but it was the recipes attached to it that piqued my curiosity with challenge. Would a soup made with leafy greens, onions, rice, broth and spices, all puréed together, really taste decent? Even though my quieted taste buds were doubtful, I was desperate enough to try.
Sunday, my mom and I dragged the giant stock pot out and slapped it on the stove. The rapid chopping of onions, kale, spinach and parsley ensued. A little bit of olive oil in the frying pan and a slow, happy caramelization of onions began. We tossed fresh minced garlic in with the onions to crank up the flavor for my despondent taste buds.
In the stock pot, chicken broth, wild long-grain rice and some of the minced garlic started a long simmer before we dumped in plate after plate of the fresh, nutrient-rich leaves. Soon, the stock pot’s contents resembled something I was sure any herbivore would love, although I couldn’t wait to stick the immersion blender in and turn that texture to cream.
Once the onions turned a rich, golden brown, they joined the simmer in the stock pot. Dashes of cayenne here, a bit of salt and pepper there, and we were ready to let the rice and greens cook down.
A comforting aroma wrapped around the kitchen and spread throughout the entire house. My father came to investigate the source, never in his life expecting to find green soup.
Once the rice was tender, we began to purée the massive pot of ingredients, but an initial taste test revealed that it was missing something. We wanted to both soften and spike the flavor just a little bit, and discovered the answer in a small container of crumbled goat cheese. Another whirl with the immersion blender and it was perfect. The starch from the rice was a perfect thickening agent, although you can use potatoes as well.
We scarfed down bowl after bowl. Just as we had layered the ingredients in the pot and caramelized the onions with care, each individual flavor burst open. Here was a snap of parsley, there was that dash of cayenne, followed by the sweet, smoky flavor of goat cheese and all tied together by the complex warmth of golden onions. It was comfort in a bowl.
I couldn’t seem to get enough of it. Here was a completely healthy and comforting soup, so simple yet so layered with flavors that I would be sure to love it.
The next morning, I felt a bit like Popeye does after popping open a can of spinach - empowered and healthy, thrusters on full. I think I found my secret weapon.
The best part is, I know that this is just the beginning. The green soup that we experimented with is really a base, just waiting for everything but the kitchen sink to amp up or completely change the direction of the flavor.
Green soup may not look or sound like much, but I think it’s a miracle that anyone can love. So before you fall prey to whatever pestilence is lurking around the corner this season, whip up a batch of miracle soup and I promise, it will be good for your mind, body and soul.
Here's our take on this super soup. This is a decent portion to get your feet wet, but feel free to double or triple.
Related - What food soothes you when you're under the weather?
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To ASHLEY STRICKLAND:
Would you please double check your recipe – you mention PARSLEY twice in your article but parsley is NOT an ingredient in your recipe. BTW I made this soup and it was terrific! I'm thinking you must be in your twenties. If not, you need to focus on your job.
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