Today the wintry weather tiptoed back in, with a few sharp drops in the temperature that seemed to happen each time I went back inside for some short business. I felt it more due to heading out wearing my lightweight jacket and scarf this morning; which have been the way to go since the big snow melted away a few days ago.
Either way, true wintry temps or standard January coldness, it’s still very much soup weather, and that reminded me that I want to share a fantastic, everyday soup recipe that I depend on all year round. It’s from my friend Keebe Fitch’s mom’s creation, The Fearrington House Cookbook: A Celebration of Food, Flowers and Herbs. This book is a treasury of delicious, dependable, celebration-friendly recipes with which Jenny Fitch nurtured, nourished, comforted, delighted, and blessed her family, friends, and community during her time in this world.
This recipe caught my eye, as a little gem among many jewels, when I was working on my cookbook about soups and stews of the American South back in 2013. She notes that it can be made with almost any combination of greens, from watercress and spinach to lettuce and the wild vegetable known as crease greens. I used spinach, iceberg lettuce, and turnip greens this time, and it was lovely and delicious as always. You could use four cups of spinach and be just fine.
It’s a little blueprint for everyday soups —- you cook a little garlic and onion in butter till aromatic and shiny; then add broth and russet potatoes and finally the greens. Simmer until all is tender, puree in a blunder or processor, and finish with cream.
You could make it vegan by using olive oil instead of butter and vegetable broth instead of chicken stock; and adding a non-dairy “milk” at the end: soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk are a few places to start.
It’s so much more tasty than you might think— you wouldn’t expect it to be terrible (at least I hope you wouldn’t!) but nothing about the recipe or the way it looks in the bowl prepares you for the comforting and pleasing way these elemental ingredients work together
I love recipes that say “this is good hot, cold, or a room temperature”, and this is one of those. We’re still far from the days when cold soup will seem appealing, but keep that in mind, because sometime in July you and I WILL be thinking about picnics and road trips, and the memory that I am telling you this is great cold might serve you as you put together a few items to take camping, hiking, or out in the back yard for a picnic.
You’ll need a blender, a food processor, or an immersion blender to finish this soup; if it’s the first one, plan to work in batches as the amount of soup is much more than the blender jar will hold at one time.
Making soup into a meal can be a challenge — we can say Sandwich and Salad all day long but sometimes that seems too lunch-y or predictable. I love pairing a great supply of simple soup with quesadillas, in this case whole wheat flour tortillas, and cheddar cheese, which were a dynamite companion. I love soup with bowls of whole grains, from barley and tabouleh to faro and rice. I had some grape tomatoes out on the counter needing purpose, and decided to salute them speedy quick in oil with a little garlic, green onion, and cilantro, finishing them up with a squeeze of lime juice and a drizzle of honey, to make a little tomato relish that goes with (fill in blank) and is red and pretty and a boon to the wintertime table.
I hope you like this greens soup as much as I do — please let me know in the comments what kinds of greens you use, and whether you enjoyed anything with it. If you make it and take a photo and post it on Instagram, tag me @nanciemacpix ! Love to see you cooking your way through the winter and I hope this little favorite gives you one more good thing to look forward to while we are hunkering down through the cold season. Happy cooking, happy eating!
- 2 tablespoons butter, olive oil or another vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
- 6 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock or water
- 2 Idaho russet potatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to your taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups coarsely chopped greens (turnip greens, Swiss chard, or watercress
- 1 cup coarsely chopped lettuce (Boston, oak leaf, romaine, iceberg, etc.)
- 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh spinach
- 1 cup heavy cream, half-and-half, evaporated milk, or non-dairy milk
- In a large saucepan or small Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat until it bubbles.
- Add the onions and cook, tossing them often, until they are fragrant, shiny, and softened, but not browned, about 10 minutes.
- [Add the vegetable stock, potatoes, salt, and pepper and bring them to a boil.
- Lower the heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the greens and increase the heat to bring the soup back to a lively boil.
- Cook, stirring often, until the greens are tender but still brightly colored, 5 to 7 minutes more.
- Remove the soup from the heat.
- Transfer it to a large food processor or a blender (work in batches if necessary --- for a blender you will need 3 or more batches, and you many need to add liquid to move the blades.)
- Working in batches if necessary, process everything to a fairly smooth, beautiful green puree.
- Return the soup to the cooking pot and stir in the heavy cream.
- Serve the soup hot or warm.
- Or cool it to room temperature, cover, and chill it for at least 2 hours, to serve cold.
If you’ve purchased your greens fresh from the fields, give them a thorough rinse before chopping. Fill a large bowl with cool water and plunge the greens in. Swish them around to loosen any dirt, and repeat if needed until the water stays clear. Drain well and then gather the greens up into stacks and chop them coarsely.