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.
Greens Soup Ingredients
- 1/2 gallon green cabbage leaves, cleaned and torn or chopped
- 1/2 gallon lambs quarter leaves, torn from the stems and cleaned
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 7 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Coconut oil or oil of your choice
- 8 cups bone broth (or vegetable broth)
- 1/4 cup tapioca flour or thickening of your choice (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 heaping tablespoon dried tarragon
Greens Soup Steps
- In a large soup pot saute the onion, garlic and pepper flakes in oil until the onion begins to brown.
- Add the tarragon and saute for a couple more minutes. The oil wakes up the flavor of the tarragon.
- Pour in the bone broth and bring to a simmer.
- Add the cabbage greens, put on a lid, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, bring a pot of water to boil, add the lambs quarters, and boil for about five minutes. Discard the boiling water.
- Once the cabbage is cooked, add the boiled lambs quarters, stir, and allow the mixed greens to simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Carefully pull the greens from the broth and puree in a food processor.
- Return the pureed greens to the soup pot and stir to blend. The soup will already be thick. If you would like it thicker, then blend the tapioca flour with a cup of water and slowly add to the soup, stirring the whole time. The soup will be thickened in about 2 minutes.
- Check for salt and pepper and make adjustments.
- Serve up in soup bowls and garnish with edible flowers.
- Freeze any leftovers. You don’t want to waste a drop of this nutritious brew.