With the sub-zero weather we are now enduring in Duluth, the thought of a cold smoothie or juice with healthy greens just doesn't work for my brain or body. So bring on a nourishing soup!! Pzazz on a cold day!
This soup was inspired by a recipe that I found at the New York Times food section for Pureed Spinach Soup with Middle Eastern Spices. The original recipe had rice cooked in it, but I omitted that and opted instead to add cooked rice to the soup when I served it if I chose to do so. It also used a bouquet garni of a bay leaf, fresh thyme, and fresh parsley, but I improvised with what I had available and simply used a bay leaf and ground thyme. This is what I love about cooking as opposed to baking. Improvisation based on what I have in the kitchen keeps the process intriguing and creative and, many times, more budget-friendly.
|Last of garden onions|
The mixture of spices creates a distinctly Mid-Eastern flavor, but in a delicate sort of way. If you aren't familiar with toasting cumin seed, it is definitely worth the minimal time it requires. Simply put them in a dry pan on low-heat and toast them for 2 - 5 minutes, just until they are fragrant. Then crush them with a mortar and pestle.
|Toasting cumin seed|
Don't have cumin seed? Just throw in about 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin and you'll be fine, with a bit less robust flavor.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup finely diced celery
Salt to taste (I didn't add any and it was delicious without it)
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, stemmed and washed thoroughly in 2 changes of water
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I used ground nutmeg)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 scant teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground (or use about 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander if you don't have coriander seeds available)
Freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup yogurt ( I used goat yogurt, but Greek yogurt was used in the original recipe.)
1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, and add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring, until tender about 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic smells fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
|Spices added to the soup|
2. Add the stock, bay leaf, and thyme and salt to taste, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the spinach and spices, cover and simmer 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. The spinach should wilt but should maintain its bright color.
3. Using an immersion stick hand blender, or in batches in a regular blender, purée the soup. Return to the pot and heat through, stirring.Whisk the cornstarch into the yogurt. If you want a pungent, garlicky yogurt, mash a garlic clove to a paste with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle and stir it into the yogurt. Stir the yogurt into the soup. Alternatively, you can use the yogurt as a garnish and swirl into each soup bowl when you serve it. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Serve the soup, garnishing each bowl with a sprinkling of crushed vegetable chips or croutons. Add cooked rice, if desired. (Rice is not included in the nutritional analysis.)
Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 6
Serving Size: 1 cup
Total Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 7 mg
Sodium: 254 mg
Total Carbs: 11 g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 5 g