Winter Greens Soup

The Winter Greens soup is perfect for a crisp autumn evening or a colder winter night. It’s especially relevant now that I’m back in the Midwest, where there are four seasons. I came across this particular recipe in the Field of Greens Cookbook, by Annie Somerville, from the famed Greens restaurant in San Francisco. It’s as healthy as soup gets and can easily be made vegan.

It also reminds me of my first couple years after college, while working in Michigan, where winter was a serious deal. Back then, I did not have the same awareness of the food machinery in the United States (see Food Inc if you want to learn) than I do today. To avoid ingesting insecticides and pesticides, I purchased organic leafy greens – the kale, chard and spinach. I had a head of cabbage that I wanted to consume, so I substituted the cabbage for the spinach. The recipe also calls for making your own vegetable stock, however, I broke one of my own rules and purchased some low sodium vegetable stock from Whole Foods. The ingredients in the vegetable stock were simply vegetables, salt and water – there were no preservatives or msg – check your ingredients before you buy it. I’m not a fan of croutons, but if you’re so inclined, I have provided the recipe for those below as well. I’m not also a fan of garlic – so I replaced the garlic with a mix of dried crushed herbs – thyme, oregano and basil – to provide additional flavor.

The soup was flavorful and hearty. Enjoy!

Winter Greens Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced, about 3 cups
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or 1 tsp each of dried thyme, oregano and basil)
  • 1 cup chard stems, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium-sized potato, thinly sliced, about 1 cup
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced, about 1 cup
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups of low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves washed, about 8 cups packed
  • 1 bunch of green chard, stems removed and leaves washed, about 8 cups packed
  • 1 bunch of spinach, stems removed and leaves washed, about 8 cups packed (or 1/2 large head of cabbage, washed and chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon, juiced
  • 1 recipe garlic Croutons (optional)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt and several pinches of pepper. Saute over medium heat until the onion is soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Then add the garlic (or herbs), chard stems, potatoes and carrot. Saute until the vegetables are heated through, about 5 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup stock, cover the pot and cook for about 10 minutes. When the vegetables are tender, add the white wine and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until the pan is nearly dry. Stir in the kale, chard, 1 teaspoon salt, a few pinches of pepper and 3 cups stock. If you are using cabbage, add it in as well. Cover the pot and cook the soup for 10 to 15 minutes, until the chard and kale are tender. Add the spinach and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until just wilted.

Puree the soup in a blender or food processor until it is smooth. Thin with a little more stock if it seems too thick. Season with lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish each serving with Garlic Croutons and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Makes 9 to 10 cups.

Garlic Croutons

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or replace with 1 tsp each of dried thyme and oregano)
  • 1/4 French baguette, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the olive oil and garlic (or herbs). Lay the slices of baguette on a baking sheet and brush them lightly with the garlic oil or herb oil. Bake for about 8 minutes, until the croutons are crisp and lightly browned.

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