Green Soup for the Soul

It feels like I've been waiting for February forEVER! Strangely, February feels a lot like January. It's still super cold (it's been well below zero degrees) and I seem to have caught a cold. I don't get colds very often, and I blame this one on my immersion blender.

A few weeks ago, my immersion blender broke. It was a sad, sad day around here, let me tell you. My favorite breakfast is a Green Monster smoothie. I tried to make it in my blender, but the clean up was just too much and it didn't blend as nicely. As a result, my immune system has not had the extra fortification it normally has. Alas.

The point of this story is that I've been craving something green. I've also been craving something warm. So much so that I actually made warm oatmeal for breakfast two days in a row! What?! I hate warm oatmeal and it's snotty texture! Clearly, something had to be done.

Enter this green soup. This is the kind of soup you make on a day you don't really feel like doing much at all. It takes some time to make, but not really much active time. Caramelize some onions while reading a good book. Steam some greens while doing some knitting. Cook some rice while dreaming of a vacation. Sounds like a pretty nice day to me.

I didn't modify the original recipe ingredients much, but I did modify the technique slightly. Her technique for caramelizing onions didn't do much but steam my onions. Plus, the original recipe, to save time I assume, has the onions cooking in one pan and the soup in another pan. I'd rather take an extra 20 minutes than have to wash another pan, especially when I've got the time. But, if you're pressed for time, cook the onions in it's own skillet and then you can begin the rice a little sooner. Just be sure to deglaze the onion skillet to get all the extra delicious bits of flavor out of the skillet when done.

Green Soup for the Soul
6 servings, 70 minutes for caramelizing onions, 35 minutes for the soup

2 large yellow onions, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups water
1/4 cup arborio rice
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 - 1 lb chard
9-12 ounces spinach
2 cups vegetable broth (I used 2 cups water + 1 1/2 teaspoons Better than Bullion No Chicken Broth Concentrate)
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
high quality olive oil (about 1 teaspoon per serving) for garnish

  1. Caramelize the onions: In a large soup pot, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently until starting to brown, about 5-10 minutes. Turn the heat to low and let onions cook, stirring occasionally, for 30-60 minutes or until a deep caramel color and almost a jam-like consistency. Add a tablespoon or so of water during the cooking process if the onions are sticking too much to the pot. Remove the onions from the pot and set aside. (You can do this step a couple days in advance if needed.)
  2. Add the rice to the soup pot, along with the water and salt. Stir to get the stuck bits off the pot and into the broth. Cover. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Let cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Wash and de-stem the chard. Chop coarsely. This doesn't have to be perfect since we'll be blending the soup later. Add the chard to the soup pot, stir, cover the pot, and let cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Wash and coarsely chop the spinach. Add the spinach to the soup pot along with the vegetable broth, caramelized onions, and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine. Cover and let cook for 5 more minutes or until the spinach is a bright green.
  5. Puree the soup: Ideally, use your immersion blender. Since I'm sans immersion blender right now, I used my food processor and divided it into three batches. I placed a dish towel over the oil spout to prevent hot dangerous splattering. The soup should be silky smooth when done.
  6. Finish seasoning the soup: add the lemon juice and adjust the salt to taste. Depending on the amount of greens you used and your thickness preference, you may wish to add some water or vegetable broth to thin the soup. Drizzle each serving with about a teaspoon of olive oil before devouring. 
Nutritional facts per serving (250g): 163 calories; 10.2g fat; 0mg cholesterol; 799mg sodium; 15.2g carbohydrates; 2.9g dietary fiber; 5g protein

Print this recipe. Adapted from Basic Green Soup by Anna Thomas