Take a chance on green - soup, that is
October 6th, 2011
10:00 AM ET
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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.

Green Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 pound kale, chopped
  • 12 ounces spinach, chopped
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup wild long-grain rice
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • A generous dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sour cream for garnish

Cooking Directions

  1. Have a tablespoon of olive oil heating in a small frying pan while you chop the onions. Stir the onions so they don't burn over high heat. Once the onions are translucent, turn down the heat, cover the pan and allow the onions to caramelize, stirring occasionally. Feel free to add half of the garlic to this pan. This process can take up to 25 minutes.
  2. Pour the chicken broth into another pot and put it on medium heat. Add the rice and minced garlic so they can cook while you chop the greens. Stir in the greens, adding more chicken broth if necessary.
  3. Add the onions to the pot once they have turned golden brown and reduced.
  4. Allow the greens to reduce and the rice to fully cook before using an immersion blender to combine all of the ingredients.
  5. Add the cayenne pepper, salt, pepper and goat cheese. Use the immersion blender again to create a creamy texture. (Note: If you don't have an immersion blender, a regular blender will do - just be sure to start on a slow speed and be careful not to fill the blender more than half full as hot liquids will expand when blended.)
  6. If using lemon juice to taste, add this after blending.

Related - What food soothes you when you're under the weather?

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Filed under: Food as Medicine • Make • Recipes • Sick Food • Soup • Staples • Vegetarian


soundoff (73 Responses)
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  2. Janice

    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.

    March 12, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
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