Silky Green (NOT Split Pea) Soup

This can also be titled Kate vs. the broken memory card. Sorry there are no photos right now, but I promise to upload them as soon as I repair my troubled computer situation. Thanks for your patience!

When I was 4, I decided that I distinctly and utterly HATED split pea soup. Ugh. The texture, the starchy, gumminess of the peas, even the little chunks of ham were off-putting.

I remember that my grandfather was baffled that I didn’t like my grandma’s split pea soup. “How can you not like split pea soup, hetehose?!” My grandfather’s family was from Eastern Europe, and he had all these little pet nicknames for us. My brother was snickelfritz. I’m not sure what hetehose even means, or if that is how you spell it, so if anyone has any Czech, Slovakian, Latvian, or Lithuanian skills please let me know if you can help! Either way, one of them meant trouble maker, and I was in trouble. I HAD to eat that soup, don’t you know, because my grandparents were not about to see good food go to waste. Being force-fed what I viewed as the equivalent of snot liquid? Maybe that is why I have avoided green, pureed soups in the past.

How our grandmothers and grandfathers would be baffled now to see how much food we throw away. I love the old-school, “waste not want not approach.” (By the way, what does that even mean? I’m just full of questions today.) I actually get really paranoid about it sometimes. When cooking at a friend’s apartment, I was downright flabbergasted that he didn’t have a spatula. “How do you not have a spatula?! How do you get every last lick or drop out of your bowls and pans???”. I think I bought him a spatula the next week. It is an essential tool for me. I cringe when I watch cooking shows and the chefs cavalierly throw a good ⅛ c of brownie batter or at least half a crabcake’s worth of filling into the sink without scraping down the bowl. Ok, so I’m a little neurotic. But what kid doesn’t want to get every last smidgen of cookie dough out of that mixing bowl? I was definitely that kid, and now as an adult I just can’t stand to throw food away.

It is amazing how we’ve been conditioned to throw away food that is perfectly edible and especially healthy. I would have never thought to save my vegetable peels, wash them, and make them into a stock until I discovered the idea on 222 million tons. But it’s genius! How many of our grandmothers did this? How did wasting food become totally normal and acceptable? I think a lot of people just don’t realize that you can use every last bit of food, vegetables especially.

I usually wash and prepare most of my veggies on the weekend after a market visit. The ends, peels, tops, etc all get scrubbed and thrown into a container until I’ve collected enough to make a big pot of the best tasting vegetable stock available.

The green tops of vegetables like turnips, radishes, and beets were always too bitter for me to saute and enjoy alone. Instead, I finally decided to get my act together and once again tackle a green, pureed soup. I’m still staying very far away from peas, but this silky, blended beauty is a wonderful way to get all the nutrients from greens while mitigating the bitterness or tough stems. I’ve also found a home for the remaining ⅞ of the bunches of herbs that I buy for other recipes – perfect toppings to freshen up this soup after it’s been in the fridge for a day or two.

I’ve made several variations of this soup, so just use what you have on hand. I believe beet season is coming up soon, so now you know what you can do with all the tops of those prize-fighters. With just a few ingredients in this simple soup, homemade stock makes all the difference – I’ve done chicken and vegetable stock with equal success. I usually pair the green top of one veggie with a leafy version of another, for instance radish tops and spinach or turnip tops and komatsuna, a Japanese cousin to spinach.

If you taste your soup and it is too thin or too bitter for your liking, add some roasted cauliflower or roasted squash for heft and sweetness. The weather is a bit back and forth right now, so I’ve been eating this soup cold on the warmer days and heating it up when it’s been rainy and cool. I love topping it with thyme, chervil, or dill and caramelized onions.

Silky Green Soup
5-6 cups of homemade stock, depending on how thick you like your soup
1 large bunch of spinach or similar green, such as komatsuna (about 2 cups roughly chopped)
greens and stems from the tops of turnips, radishes, beets, etc. (about 3 cups roughly chopped)
2 tsp Herbamare salt
½ – 1 cup roasted cauliflower, squash or sweet potato, optional

optional toppings:
fresh herbs
squeeze of lemon juice
caramelized onions
prosciutto

Make sure all your greens are washed, rinsed, and not totally soaked with water. A bit of drippage is fine, but you don’t want to water down your delicious homemade stock too much. Add stock and greens to a large saucepan and bring to medium heat. Cook until the greens are soft and the stems are no longer tough, about 6 – 8 minutes depending on what green you are using.

Let the contents of the pan cool a bit before you transfer to a blender. In batches, puree the soup until it is totally smooth and no fibrous bits of stalk or leaf remain. I filled my blender only halfway, because hot liquid will expand, push air out, and make a HUGE mess if you overfill your blender. This would also be a opportunity to remind yourself for the 1,389th time that an immersion blender is an amazing, worthy investment.

Taste your soup. If it is too thin or a bit too green for your tastes, add cauliflower or squash to the blender with some of the soup, puree, and stir back into the pot. Add the Herbamare salt, mix, and taste again.

Serve hot, room temperature, or chilled, topped with lots of fresh herbs, a healthy squeeze of lemon, and caramelized onions. I just ate some with roasted garlic this evening and it was perfect!


Part of Fit & Fabulous Fridays from Amee’s Savory Dish

Also part of Diet, Dessert & Dogs Wellness Weekend June 14-18