If you are low on vitamins or just need a quick hit of veggies (and seriously, who doesn’t), this is the soup for you. It’s totally unlike your average plain, boring vegetable soup: loaded with fresh flavours, savoury garlic, a spicy pepper edge and a velvety texture that comes from simply whisking flour with olive oil and white wine at the start. No need for sticks of butter or cups of whole milk; you need the veggies, not the fat. Plus this qualifies it as vegan, if that’s your jam: just substitute veggie stock for the chicken stock or use one that’s not flavoured with meat products—I use McCormick All-Vegetable Chicken Style bouillon cubes. Don’t ask me how they make the stuff without any meat, but it tastes pretty good as far as bouillon goes and doesn’t have any MSG.
I leave my vegetables pretty chunky as I like a hearty, chewy soup—large dice, or something like that. If you don’t like to crunch your soup so much, dice them up finer. (Though, that extra jaw work definitely makes this soup seem all the more satisfying.)
If you prefer a completely monochromatic soup you can omit the carrots (just add some extra celery instead). I don’t mind the odd spot of orange punctuating my bowl, but then again I’m pretty laissez-faire when it comes to soup making.
This recipe makes a gigantic pot: I had a kilogram of fresh spinach to burn through, plus I needed to replenish my stash of frozen soups for work lunches. Halve everything if you don’t have the extra Tupperware and/or freezer space.
Extreme Green Soup
aka Creamy Peppery Spinach Veggie Soup
(Okay, I suck at naming food.)
4 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ cup + 4 tsp olive oil
1 heaping cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white wine
20 cups chicken stock (about 4 bouillon cubes’ worth)
6 heaping, packed cups of spinach, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 head broccoli, chopped—florets separated from stems
7 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups peas, frozen
6 green onions, thinly sliced
½ bunch parsley, minced
Mix the oregano, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper and ¼ tsp salt in a small bowl and set aside.
In a large soup pot, heat ½ cup olive oil over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until it resembles runny glue. Keep stirring for another 2 minutes. Add the spice mixture and stir for 30 seconds. Whisk in the white wine: the flour will ball up and look like frosting.
Once the wine is incorporated, slowly whisk in 2 cups of the stock. Continue whisking while it heats up and thickens to the consistency of thick cheese sauce. Slowly whisk another 4 cups of stock and make sure there are no chunks of flour. Whisk in the remaining 14 cups of stock and heat to a simmer, whisking every minute or so, for about 15 to 20 minutes.
While the stock is simmering, in a large saucepan heat the remaining 4 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and broccoli stems and sauté another 5 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and garlic and cook another 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
When the stock has simmered for about 15 minutes and tastes velvety and delicious, add the spinach. Stir to wilt it down, then remove from heat and use an immersion blender to purée. You could also transfer it in batches to a food processor or blender, but given how much liquid this is, that’d be a huge pain in the ass. An immersion blender is mandatory if you’re even half serious about your soup making, anyway.
Once the spinach is nice and puréed, scrape in the sautéed vegetables and then stir in the frozen peas, green onions and parsley. You don’t need to heat it any longer as there’s so much liquid in the pot: everything will heat up right away. Serve with a nice chunk of dark rye bread.