Saturday, October 30, 2010

Winter Greens Soup

I didn't get a chance to post yesterday, so here's today's Vegan Mofo post! It's extra-hearty to make up for yesterday's absence... ;)

Sorry about the picture. I'd already started eating by the time that I remembered that I was supposed to take a picture. Oops. That wasn't even the first bowl (which is why the colour isn't so bright any more)... I'm such a disgrace of a food blogger! Not that that phases me in any way, heh. Anyway, this soup is a really simple and really delicious way to use up leftover veg, or just get some more green vegetables into your life. Because I know you all need more green vegetables. Even those of you who are as addicted to them as I am. Not that it came easily for me: I had to coax myself onto greens, starting with garlic-fried choy sum, then working my way onto the slightly stronger bok choy, and then baby spinach leaves, still wilted with copious amounts of garlic. Broccoli was one of those vegetables I only used to like stir-fried and still crisp-tender, and it took some persuasion for me to accept it in other forms. Yet, thanks to a few over-zealous bushes of Cavolo Nero (Tuscan Cabbage) in my garden a few years ago, I'm onto the hard stuff. Kangkong, the whole Kale family, and whatever else I can get my hands on. Growing multi-coloured Silverbeet (Swiss Chard) probably didn't hurt, either. Give me my greens.

Of course, a common thread that links all of these green vegetables together is garlic. Whether they're sweet or bitter, tender or tough, greens love garlic. Good olive oil, a generous amount of chopped garlic, and some well-washed greens equals an amazing side dish. Sometimes I eat it over rice, or mixed into small pasta shapes, as a main course. And sometimes I make green things into soup. This soup is an easy way to use up leftover green vegetables, as well as those tough broccoli stems that you're too lazy to properly peel in order to get to the tender inner core. The garlic, which is ever-important here, has two roles to play: first, as a base for the veg, which get a quick sautee to bring out the flavour. Secondly, when I have time, I use the outer layers of my fresh garlic, parsley and basil stems, and the leftover celery twigs (not the thick stalks, but just the spindly parts at the top) to make a quick stock to add to the soup. I hate wasting vegetables, so stock is a good friend of mine. A small mashing potato makes the soup creamy without stealing the flavour. Rounded out with a handful of sweet frozen peas, this soup is warming and delicious.

Winter Greens Soup

1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cups chopped green veg (broccoli - especially the stems, kale, spinach, or even broccolini or asparagus, if you're feeling fancy!)
1/2 cup cubed potato (about 1 small potato)
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 2cm piece ginger, chopped
1 thai birdseye chilli, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley and basil (I used a mix)
3 cups stock
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper + chilli flakes

Heat the olive oil in a pot and add the garlic, ginger and chilli, frying until fragrant. Add the celery, stirring to mix well, and cook for a minute longer. Add the greens (stems take longer than leaves, so take that into account if you like) and potato and sautee another minute.
Turn the heat down to medium and add the stock. Simmer until the vegetables are tender. Add the frozen peas, and allow to thaw - this should only take a minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and blend thoroughly until the soup is completely smooth, adding water to thin if desired. Add chilli flakes to taste, and to decorate.

Winter Greens Stock
1 generous handful of outer peelings of fresh garlic, or 2 cloves, sliced
1 cup celery twigs, roughly chopped, plus celery heart, chopped (optional)*
1 thai birdseye chilli, sliced in half lengthways
1 large stem fresh thyme
stems of parsley and basil
4 cups water

Put everything in a saucepan and cook on medium-high heat, about 20-15 minutes, and strain well.

* I know you can see a celery leaf in the stock photo. Sure, one leaf is fine. I was cutting up a whole head of celery, so I added the thin inner stems to my stock as well - just those that were too thin and insubstantial to make it into my fridge-supply of celery. I wouldn't recommend letting more than one or two leaves make it into your pot, however, because they can be incredibly bitter, especially the older (outer) leaves.While I'm confessing, I'll also add that I love cucumber peeled when I add it to salads, because the skins of cukes here seems really tough... so if I have some peel, I throw them into the soup at the blending stage. Why not? It doesn't affect the flavour, and it means that they don't go to waste. Plus it makes the colour even greener. I know, I'm crazy.

1 comment:

  1. This looks like a fantastic soup, and really healthy too!


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