Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Spinach and Sweet Potato Soup with Ginger

What I make for soup during the winter is often dependent on what I still have in my freezer from the garden last year, or what is on sale at the market.   The special this week was two 10 oz. bags of fresh spinach for $1.49.  This would yield a lot of soup.  So I made a variation of Anna Thomas' recipe for Green Soup with Ginger, using all spinach rather than a combination of chard and spinach.  I also reduced the amount of vegetable broth to one cup rather than two cups and reduced the amount of salt from 1 1/2 teaspoons to 1/2 teaspoon.  

I checked out a copy of Anna Thomas' cookbook, Love Soup (2009), from the library and have been devouring it nightly like a great mystery novel.    (So my secret is out.  I can read a cookbook with as much delight as other people read novels.  I read novels and find them captivating, too. But a cookbook....oh, I relish it!)  Her approach to creating soup is similar to mine and she is apparently mesmerized by green soups in the same way that I am, though she is not dependent on them as I am.   While some people may think green soups are somehow repulsive, I see them as nourishing, wholesome, and appealing.   To prevent digestive tract obstructions,  I cannot eat raw vegetables and even when cooked, I need to have them pureed or finely pulverized.  So green soups using leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collards, turnip greens, chard, and mustard greens become my primary source of healthy, green vegetables.  Such nutrient dense soups are an important element in my overall food plan to boost my immune system and hopefully minimize growth of the tumor.   

I am fortunate to still have about 5 leeks of the 100 that Tom harvested from our vegetable garden last year.  I stored them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag and they are nearing the point of becoming too soft to use, so using two small ones in this soup seemed logical.   Leeks add a distinctly exquisite flavor to any soup, which is why Tom planted so many of them last year for me.  If you aren't familiar with leeks, they are like a mild, mellow tasting onion.  People who generally don't like onions often find they like the taste of leeks.   

But, if you don't have access to leeks like I did,  and aren't willing to pay the current high price for them in the market, I think you could probably omit the leeks.  Though you will miss the mellow flavor of the leeks. 

I frequently add ginger to my soups for a variety of reasons. First, I love the taste.  Second, ginger is often noted to be an aid for digestion and assimilation of food and I need all the help I can get in that category!

1 large yellow onion, chopped                            
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
(or 2 Tablespoons olive oil)
1/2  teaspoon sea salt
1 large sweet potato  (about 14 oz)
1 large leek, white and light green part only
10 oz. fresh spinach
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh ginger, or more if desired
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
Fresh lemon juice, to taste
Freshly ground pepper
Reduced-fat feta cheese for garnish

Slowly cook the onion with a sprinkle of salt in the oil, stirring occasionally, until it is soft, about 20 - 30 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, peel and dice the sweet potato and put it in a large soup pot with 4 cups of water and a teaspoon of salt.  Thoroughly wash the leek and spinach, chop them coarsely, and add them to the pot, along with the chopped ginger.

Bring the sweet potato/leeks/spinach to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the soup, covered, for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are completely tender.  Add the onions.  When the vegetables are soft, add the vegetable broth and puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender.    Add a splash of  lemon juice and a few grinds of black pepper to taste.  Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with reduced-fat feta cheese, if desired.

Nutrition: (does not include feta cheese as garnish)
Servings per recipe: 5
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 108
Total Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 316 mg
Total Carbs: 18 g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 3