Maybe it was St Patrick’s Day that inspired me. Oh no wait, it wasn’t, but that’s apropos. I actually spent St Patty’s mostly reading about the potato famine and learned a lot. In the US, we kind of learn that the potatoes stopped growing properly in Ireland, which was all the food that was there, so everyone came to America, where their lives got better. Turns out that’s false on multiple counts, and by the end of my reading, I was pretty much in league with those who are seeking to have the famine years historically reassessed as a campaign of genocide perpetrated by the British.
But I digress.
This soup came about because I had some friends over on Sunday for dinner, and I wasn’t very decisive when I was shopping, so I just bought truckloads of stuff at the farmer’s market, and I didn’t prepare all the green stuff. It happens sometimes. So Thursday rolls around and I’m all like “what am I going to do with all this green stuff that’s about to go off?”
MAKE SOUP! Duh.com
I don’t think a lot of people cook with lettuce that isn’t raw. This is a mistake. Lettuce is incredibly delicious when braised, for instance, and it sure does make a fantastic soup, as we’re about to discover. That said, you can’t just boil it down and expect any great results. Whereas it makes a nice addition to soups that kind of already have their own thing going on, if you’re looking to use it as a main ingredient, it needs a little help. Luckily, it’s nothing complicated.
First – as always – start with a mirepoix or as here, a modified version. Second, use a starch that will give the soup a nice body (sorry that might have wrecked your appetite). Unless puréed, the soup can be unattractive, and without a little starch it doesn’t really purée well, since the solids and liquids won’t bind together. I use rice, but small new potatos would work, too. Third, don’t skimp on spices that add brightness and depth of flavor. I think ground coriander and cayenne work especially well. Lastly, keep everything a nice color by adding some spinach at the very end of the cooking, right before you purée, ideally off the heat. This will insure your soup stays a vibrant, jade color that will impress everyone. Cuz that’s important.
The soup’s equally good hot or cold, too. Bonus points! So now you have a way to use up those greens you don’t know what to do with. Score. As in life, the answer’s always “make soup!”
Green Soup from Heaven
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 large/2 small carrots, chopped
- 3 tablespoons rice (I use arborio)
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp (or less, to taste) cayenne
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3-4 cups veg stock
- 2 heads green lettuce, coarsely chopped
- 200g arugula, coarsely chopped
- large handful of parsley, or other “bright” herb, coarsely chopped
- 200 g baby spinach
- yogurt or crème fraîche for garnish
- Sauté the onion and carrot in a little oil just until soft
- Add the rice, and toast until the grains give off a nutty aroma (2-3 min)
- Add the garlic, cook until fragrant (30 sec)
- Add the spices, and cook another 30-45 sec
- Add the stock, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan
- Add the lettuce, and bring up to the boil, then reduce to a simmer
- When the lettuce is wilted and settled, add the arugula and parsley
- Simmer for about 20 mins until all the vegetables are very soft, and the grains are soft enough to smash between your fingers
- Off the heat, add the spinach, and cover the pot. When the spinach is completely wilted, puree the soup with an immersion blender very well. You don’t want any solids left.
- Garnish with yogurt or crème fraîche and a drizzle of olive oil, and serve!