It’s that time of year, once again, when our New Year’s resolutions to live a healthier life by eating better are at full peak. Perhaps you’ve even considered embracing a more plant-based diet in honor of Veganuary, a movement founded in 2014 to raise awareness to the environmental, ethical and health benefits of adhering to a vegan lifestyle.
There’s no better way to begin a healthy food journey than to load up on nature’s bounty of glorious green vegetables. Chock full of vitamins and trace minerals necessary for peak body functions, super or sometimes power greens, as they have come to be known, are versatile ingredients to stock in your fridge. Now, if it were summer, I might have offered a recipe for a crisp salad or a creamy smoothie. But with that chilly “Nor’easter” settling in on So Cal, a warm bowl of assorted greens simmered in a luscious umami broth, seemed the best antidote to Holiday decadence and the blistering cold.
The gorgeous greens pictured are all from the Frecker Farms stand at the Wednesday Larchmont Farmer’s Market. They have a table on Sundays as well.
- The soup I created is a framework for a super greens soup. Choose the kinds of greens you love best. You definitely want a variety for flavor and texture. The same goes for the fresh herbs and seasonings. I chose to let the greens shine by simply using Italian parsley and celery leaves. Fresh herbs such as thyme, tarragon, cilantro and sage could all be incorporated into the broth, as could a knob of fresh ginger.
- While it’s always best to buy individual bunches of greens for maximum freshness and nutrition, sometimes we’re too busy. Feel free to buy bagged greens if you’re on a time crunch to get dinner on the table. If buying individual bunches of fresh greens, make sure to wash thoroughly as they can be sandy. Either way, organic is best.
- Please note that collard greens require a longer cook time than the other greens and are added first. I love the rich flavor they bring to this soup. For a faster soup you can replace the collards with more of the other greens. Also, greens cook way down so don’t be intimidated by the amount. They will fill the pot and then shrink down.
- Frecker Farms at the Larchmont Farmer’s Market usually has spring green onions, different than traditional scallions, as they need to be cooked. I used those in place of yellow onion to make this a truly green soup. Feel free to use chopped yellow onion. I topped the soup with chopped scallions.
- Try to find an organic head of celery with lots of leaves. Frecker Farms and other vendors at the Larchmont Farmer’s market usually stock them. The intensity of “celery” taste is completely different than the watery variety at the supermarket.
- Nutritional yeast is a vegan’s BFF but should be in every kitchen. It adds so much flavor to a variety of recipes as well as a good dose of b vitamins.
- Miso paste is another great kitchen staple for that umami flavor. White miso paste is the mildest and least salty and works best in this soup. If you have yellow miso paste in the house, already, simply use less.
- Adding acid at the end of cooking is key to balancing flavors. I prefer fresh squeezed lemon juice though apple cider vinegar could be used instead.
- To make the soup a full meal here are some plant-based protein suggestions. Add them once all of the greens have almost cooked down and then heat through.
1) Canned white beans such as navy beans or cannellini
2) Canned chickpeas
3) Chunks of super firm tofu
4) Precooked plant-based chicken replacement readily available in the vegan sections of supermarkets
5) Plant-based sausages that you will need to cook and slice before adding
Super Greens Soup
Serves 8. Cut recipe in half for a smaller pot of soup
2 T white miso paste
1 heaping T nutritional yeast
1 cup boiling water
3 T olive oil or other healthy cooking oil such as avocado or a blend of both
4 stalks spring green onions sliced or 1 small yellow onion, diced
2 large stalks celery, chopped
1 cup loosely packed celery leaves, chopped
3 very large cloves garlic, chopped
8 cups loosely packed, chopped or torn collard greens, stems removed
8 cups vegetable stock (2 boxes)
1 small bunch Italian parsley, tied in string
4 cups loosely packed, chopped or torn dinosaur kale, stems removed
4 cups loosely packed, chopped or torn curly kale, stems removed
4 cups loosely packed, chopped or torn Swiss chard, tough stems removed
4 cups packed spinach, outer stems removed
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
2-3 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
Tabasco or favorite hot sauce
Toppings for service:
Chopped scallions or chives
Chopped fresh Italian parsley
In a small bowl, dissolve the miso paste and nutritional yeast in the boiling water. Set aside.
In a very large stockpot, I used a 12-quart, heat the oil over a medium flame. When shimmering add the onions of choice and chopped celery stalks. Cook until softened but not browned.
Add the garlic and celery leaves and cook another minute to soften.
Add the collard greens and stir up in the oil.
Add the vegetable stock, the cup of miso/nutritional yeast broth and the tied up bunch of parsley to the pot. Stir it all up. Bring to a rolling simmer. Cover and let cook 20 minutes.
Check on and stir up occasionally.
Remove the parsley bunch and discard
Add the kale and stir up, once that has settled down add the chard and spinach and stir up.
Bring to a rolling simmer once again and cover. Cook 15-20 minutes until all leaves are tender.
If adding beans or other protein, do that 10 minutes after adding the kale, chard and spinach to get them heated through.
Once greens are cooked, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper
Add the lemon juice
Add hot sauce to taste
Stir it all up and serve immediately with the toppings in bowls on the side.