In the spirit of using our abundant garden produce and foraging the beautiful wild greens around us, we are eating soup so loaded with leafy greens that it looks like extracted vegetable juice. This stuff is GREEN!
It has been fun to figure out how to combine greens that would usually end up in the compost or the chicken yard into soups that we find interesting and satisfying. Last night we used a combination of the dark green cabbage leaves that protect a growing head of cabbage (which are typically discarded) and some foraged lambs quarters. The cabbage leaves are tough and require some cooking to break down, but they bring a great flavor to the soup pot.
Onions and garlic are a must with any soup, in my book. We saute them to get the maximum flavor before adding them to the soup pot. Voles have been dining on my garlic plants so I pulled some green garlic from the affected area, washed it, and finely sliced the bulb and the green top. It has great flavor. Fresh green garlic is definitely a different experience than the dry garlic from the grocery store.
Each batch of green soup is a new canvas for seasonings. Last night we simply added a fair amount of tarragon. Tarragon is a strongly flavored herb that blended well with the strongly flavored greens. It provided a surprisingly “finished” flavor. Another rich-tasting soup had substantial amounts of cilantro greens and pepper patties from the freezer. The pepper patties are sweet Italian peppers roasted with garlic and pureed. We have a stash I need to use up before the new peppers come in. (Read more about how we freeze peppers.)
Finally, a good green soup needs a rich bone broth to keep it from tasting like juiced greens. If you make continuous broth like we do, then you want to use the first and second runs of broth for this project. Because the greens are so strongly flavored, there is no problem using beef bones for this. Buffalo bone broth would work as well. Chicken broth would be delightful as well.
The following amounts are approximations. Whatever you do will produce a good green soup. With the seasonings, start out with a light hand since you can always add more. Taste and adjust. Try seasonings that you really enjoy. Is it fresh ginger and garlic? Curry? Go for it! There are no wrong answers here.
Mix your greens. Use what you have. The only thing you need be mindful of is that some greens require longer cooking than others. This is the case with the recipe below. The cabbage cooked for 30 minutes before I added the lambs quarters that boiled in a separate pot. Lambs quarters is high in oxalic acid so we cook it separately and then throw away the cook water. You lose some nutrients this way, but you also reduce the oxalic acid by something like 80%. (Read more about the food science behind oxalic acid, calcium, and boiled greens.)
In selecting greens, we find the less fibrous greens to produce a very smooth soup. Nettle soup (as pictured in this post) is delightfully smooth. The outer leaves of the cabbage, as we used in last night’s recipe, are extremely fibrous and bring the fiber to the soup. For a smoother soup, we add half or more nettle to whatever greens we have: lambs quarters, turnip greens, cabbage, or beet tops.
Cleaning your garden greens
Leafy Greens: How To Choose, Ideas For Cooking
Your Next Greens Cookbook: Greens, Glorious Greens
Homemade kale chips — Your way, your flavors
An extra-nutritious polenta with some added wild greens
A green salad with a touch of India to break you out of your salad boredom
Asian chicken lettuce wraps
The two boys who won’t eat vegetables, a story that has nothing to do with hiding greens in meatloaf or zucchini cake…