10 November 2014

Green Soup

I'll admit the title of this post sounds about as appealing as the look of the finished product itself. This is no emerald green soup, but a murky one, ready for winter. In a pinch it could also be served for any Halloween-themed parties. Despite appearances, I can share that this soup has been called "one of the top soups I've ever had" by at least one of my friends. Granted, that friend had just had a root canal, and it is possible the affects of her pain killers were slowly wearing off at the time of consumption, but still, there were other people at the table and everyone cleaned their bowls.

Beyond being deceptively delicious, this soup serves a two-fold purpose.

From time to time, I find myself lagging. Contributing factors to this general lack of zest, feeling of incessant sleepiness, and overall occassional life malaise? I blame the aging process, lack of sleep, and, when pressed, sugar.

I'm told that sugar is responsible for most or many of life's ills, or at least those related to the body and a lack of energy. That established, anyone visiting the sweets section of this blog can plainly see I am not about to give up sugar -- it is my beloved. I surely can't do anything about getting older, and with a snoring husband at my side and competing morning person/night owl schedules, sleeping is always going to be haphazard.

Enter an infusion of greens. Available winter, summer, and pretty much anytime in between, the greens in this soup are many and variable. I used copious amounts of kale and spinach, but really any mix of cookable greens will do -- collards are having a moment, so too is kale's less popular friend, chard. You could also try mustard greens or sorrell if you have them, giving the soup a bit more of a sour kick. Here we come to the soup's second purpose -- what to do with those excess amounts of greens obtained  via your weekly CSA and/or in a fit of healthfulness at the market. This soup is perfect for banging them out in one go. No more kale salads! (this week)
Green Soup
From Food 52 via Anna Thomas
Serves 4 to 6

1 bunch chard or spinach
1 bunch kale (any type)
handful of chives, cut in 1/2 inch pieces (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped roughly
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1 medium Yukon Gold potato (or other thin skinned, buttery potato) peeled and cut in 1/2 inch dice
1 medium yellow or sweet onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Marsala or dry sherry (optional)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 1/2 - 3 cups vegetable broth
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste

Wash the greens thoroughly, trim off their stems, and chop in 1/2 inch slivers. Combine the chard/spinach, kale, chives, and cilantro in a large soup pot with 2-3 cups water and a teaspoon of salt. (I did this in two batches after the first portion of the greens wilted down, but if you have a large soup pot this won't be a problem) Add the potato to the pot. Bring the water a boil, then cover and turn the flame to low, letting the soup simmer for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and cook the onion with a small sprinkle of salt over medium-low flame until it is golden brown and soft, up to half an hour. Stir occasionally and once the onion is caramelized add a tablespoon or less of Marsala or sherry to de-glaze the pan. Add the caramelized onion to the soup.

Put the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in the pan and stir the chopped garlic for just a minute or more, until it sizzles, being careful not to let it burn. Add the garlic to the pot and simmer the soup for 10 minutes more. Add the broth and puree the soup in batches in the blender, or use an immersion blender.

Return the soup to the pot, bring it back to a simmer, and taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary, black pepper, a pinch of cayenne, and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Stir well and taste again.  Garnish with a drizzle of fruity olive oil.

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