Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Basic Green Soup

Here is a delicious and nutritious way to use lots and lots of greens.  I heard this recipe described on public radio's The Splendid Table (a show I highly recommend to anyone who is at all serious about food and cooking -- Saturdays at noon on WHYY) earlier this year, and immediately thought about all the greens we'd be growing on the Big Red Farm!  The author talked about the "velvety-smooth" texture of this soup, which comes from the rice, and also, of course, about how good greens are for you.  Though the original recipe calls for spinach and chard, she emphasized that this is meant as a basic recipe, to be tweaked depending on whatever greens you have available, and I can tell you it works just fine without the spinach.  I also recommend revisiting this recipe in the fall, when we will have kale and collards!

adapted from Eating Well by Anna Thomas

2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 Tablespoons plus 3 cups water, divided
1/4 cup arborio rice
2 large bunches chard (about 2 lbs)
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
big pinch of cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste

Heat 2 Tablespoons oil over high heat in a large skillet.  Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low, add 2 Tablespoons of water, and cover.  Cook, stirring frequently until the pan cools down, then occasionally, always covering the pan again, until the onions are greatly reduced and have a deep caramel color, 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining 3 cups of water and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a soup pot or Dutch oven; add rice.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Trim the ribs out of the chard (save for another use, such as to add to a stir-fry or other soup).  Coarsely chop the chard greens.

When the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, stir in the chard greens.  Return to a simmer; cover and cook for 10 minutes.  When the onions are caramelized, add them to the rice along with the broth and cayenne.  Return to a simmer; cover and cook, stirring once, until greens are very tender, about 5 minutes more.

Puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender (or in batches in a regular blender or food processor) until perfectly smooth.  Stir in 1 Tablespoon lemon juice.  Taste and add more lemon juice, if desired.  Garnish each bowl of soup with a drizzle of olive oil.

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