Monday, February 17, 2014

Green Soup for a Post Valentine's Day Cure

If you were looking for any kind of chocolate, red velvet, caramel-ly, sugary, sweet something on the internet these past couple weeks, you sure didn't have to go very far. The world has been having one major love affair with Valentine's treats.

I'm still doing battle with the love handles my Christmas indulgences fed!

I  had my share of sweet treats this past weekend, so now it's back to a more healthy routine. Although I'm not exactly saintly about it, I am going to the gym at least three days a week and eating more mindfully.

Still, it's taking more effort than it used to. No one ever warned me about the toll a slowing metabolism would have on my waistline. The experts recommend an hour of exercise a day for a woman my age just to maintain weight. I still want to shed a few!

Losing weight is always a problem for someone like me who likes to cook  -- and who likes to eat! This metabolism thing is pretty aggravating.

So as a public service, I'm offering you this gem of a green soup as a great way to -- yes, get your greens -- get filled up and still have the satisfaction of cooking and stirring and concocting great food.

I  have to admit I was surprised how much I really, really like this soup. It's more than good for you. It really does taste good. And it's fun to make. And that's important to a cook.

Slowly caramelizing the onions is key to the soup.

The secret is the slow preparation of the onions which, aside from the greens themselves and a handful of rice, are the only thing that add bulk to the soup. That, plus the zing of a bit of cayenne and a splash of lemon juice, makes it special.

I was a slow convert to this green soup. My sister convinced me. She's a great cook and I trust her instincts -- and taste.

After one trial, I was hooked. I'm usually a little slow at joining popular food trends. By the time I'm catching on, the fad is passe.

I know that green smoothies are very popular, for instance. But they have no appeal to me because I'm more of a soup lover. Warm it up and I'll have it. Eating cold, pureed greens -- even sweetened with fruit -- just isn't for me.
The green soup pre-puree!

This green soup, however, is one that's going to be a new classic in my kitchen.  (Note that I have not included Mr. Rosemary as a new fan.)

You do need an immersion blender to simplify the making of this soup. You can use a regular blender, but that really complicates things and makes too many dishes to clean up for just a soup. Get an immersion blender, please.

Anna Thomas created the recipe and says that you should get the soup perfectly smooth. I've never been able to get it perfectly smooth.I also tried to make a picture of my soup garnished with olive oil, as in the picture below. But my drizzle ended up looking like a silly smiley face, so I nixed it.The only substitution I made was using kale instead of chard. I do imagine that any kind of green, or mix of greens, would be great.

Did I mention that there's only 99 calories for a 1 1/2 cup serving? You're welcome.

Now, off to the gym . . . .

Basic Green Soup Recipe
photo from Eating Well

Basic Green Soup
slightly adapted from Eating Well 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons plus 3 cups water, divided
1/4 1 big bunch kale, about 1 pound, thick stalks trimmed
14 cups gently packed baby spinach (about a 12 ounce bag)
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup arborio rice
Big pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more, if you like

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the chopped onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add 2 tablespoons water and cover. Cook, stirring frequently until the pan cools down, and then occasionally, always covering the pan again, until the onions are greatly reduced and have a deep caramel color, 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining 3 cups water and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a soup pot. Add the rice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
When the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, add the trimmed kale greens. Return to a simmer,; cover and cook for 10 minutes. When the onions have caramelized, add them to the rice, along with the spinach, broth and cayenne pepper. Return to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring once, until the spinach is tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes more.
Puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender, or in a regular blender in batches. Stir in the lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice if you'd like. Garnish each serving of soup with a drizzle of olive oil

Makes about 8 servings, 1 1/2 cups each


  1. Replies
    1. Glad to be of service, Marta. (You know, I have even eaten this for breakfast!)

  2. What a delicious way to get all your "green" for the day. I like it!


    1. I almost feel noble eating this -- if it just didn't taste so darn good, Velva!

  3. This sounds wonderful Rosemary. And yes, after Christmas, Super Bowl and Valentine's we all need more soup like this. Plus green is my favorite color. Score!!

    1. I love Julia Child's saying, Chris: "I believe in moderation in all things. Especially moderation."

  4. this soup looks wonderful and healthy love the swirl on top hope your valentines was lovely

  5. Haha I am sure this cure would be wonderful :D
    Delicious looking soup!

    Choc Chip Uru

    1. Maybe not as good as chocolate, Uru, but pretty good.

  6. I love my immersion blender and I'm delighted to have a healthy, low cal, new soup to use it on. Add me to your list of fans!

    (I won't be joining you at the gym tho - too much pain. I'll work off the calories by dancing around the kitchen ;)

    1. Dancing 'round the kitchen is fun, too, Hester. (I think I forgot to caution everyone about the green teeth that may happen. Check yourself in the mirror before you talk to anyone after eating the green soup!)

  7. I love vegetables and your green soup sounds good to me…I make several myself. Good luck with losing the weight. I can get the weight off when needed but the inches around my waist want to stick with me. :)

    1. I wrote a story recently about how much I loved pasta carbonara and how much it loved my hips. Mr. Rosemary said it would have been more accurate to say "waistline" -- I have trouble both places, but, it's true, Karen, the waist is much more stubborn than it ever used to be!

  8. That's a beautiful and delicious green soup. I just made something similar with spinach for the lunch too. Immersion blender is my favourite kitchen gadget.

    1. I'm really surprised by how much I like an appliance. Usually I'm kinda ho-hum about gadgets -- only a handful (if that) are truly useful. Not this one, Angie. It's a new staple.

  9. Yes, the metabolism issue is an annoying one! I'm definitely working out more than ever before, and I feel like I'm treading water. This recipe would be a great addition to my files.

    1. It's also annoying that my husband can walk the same distance for as long as I do but still he gets to burn more calories. Now, I ask you, Beth, is that fair? I'm not even going to offer to share my delicious green soup with him. :)

  10. Rosemary, I just love your beautiful, healthy, and robust flavor 'green' soup...will have to make this for St. Patrick's Day, for the color 'green'. The kale and spinach are so perfectly paired, and the caramelized onion, is for sure the 'key' to this awesome soup. Love the spices, as well!

    Thank you so much for your kind and caring words of comfort. I wish our pets could live longer to stay with us; but then again, we appreciate them as part of the family, and the joy and comfort they bring to our life!

    1. The onions are indeed the secret to making this soup flavorful, Elisabeth. And St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner! What a winter we've had here. And I know Florida hasn't seemed all that Florida-ish either. (I still keep a picture of our Gus -- aka Best Dog in the Whole Wide World --
      as a screen saver, five years later.)

    2. Just read your reply back to me, Rosemary! I smiled, and had tears in my eyes after reading how you still keep a picture on your screen saver of your beloved dog...Gus! I have a framed photo of Mush and Prince on the dresser, in my bedroom!

      Such a perfect choice of the delicious 'green' soup you decided to post for St. Patrick's Day! xo

  11. Yeah, the Mr. in my household would take a pass on the green soup, too. But it sounds darned delicious to me!!
    PS. I'm with you on the green smoothies, too. No, thank you.


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