Springy Spinach Soup
The vibrant colors of spring produce (lettuces, herbs, peas, carrots, baby peppers) bring excitement and fresh flavors to our tables after months of hearty winter fare. The confluence of gorgeous crimson red, fiery orange, and brilliant yellows feasts more than our eyes. These lush pigments render a lavish profusion of antiaging utility in the form of beta-carotene and vitamin C. In addition to the overall antioxidant protection they confer, they bolster immunity and fight cancer.
A few notches across the color spectrum are other hues with equally amazing benefits. Spinach boasts the highest quercetin levels of any vegetable or fruit. Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant and a flavonoid. In addition to fighting cancer-promoting invaders, quercetin also interferes with the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (which promotes artery blockage), thus promoting cardiovascular health. Spinach has also shown remarkable promise in reversing nerve and behavioral deficits related to the aging of the brain. Among a variety of high antioxidant fruits and vegetables, spinach was the most potent in protecting certain types of nerve cells in the brain against the effects of aging. Researchers have stirred up clues that age-related deficits in memory may be reversed with nutritional interventions of antioxidant-rich foods such as spinach (and blueberries).
Yes, these powerful vitamins are generally found in the pigment components of our fresh produce (fruits too!), so I like to think the recipes they comprise are revitalizing as well as fresh and flavorful. One of my favorites is spinach—here is a quick and easy recipe for a soup that can be pulled together in minutes. If you do not have fresh spinach, you can use an equal weight of (thawed) chopped frozen spinach.
This soup is thick and hearty, and the recipe yields four cups. If you prefer a thinner soup, feel free to add an extra cup of broth.
Springy Spinach Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, roughly chopped (approximately 1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon Melissa’s chopped garlic
1 pound Melissa’s fresh organic spinach
2 cups unsalted broth (vegetable or chicken)
¾ teaspoon salt (If your broth is already salted, you may not need to add this, taste before seasoning)
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add shallot and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened but not browned.
Add garlic and sauté for another minute until softened but not browned.
Add spinach to the pan and continue stirring with a large spoon or turn with tongs.
Continue to stir or turn spinach until it is wilted but not browned.
Remove pan from heat.
At this point, you can add one cup of broth to the pan and blend with an immersion blender.
Or carefully transfer spinach to a blender, add 1 cup of broth and place cover on blender.
Blend until smooth. Add remaining cup of broth and blend again—season to taste.
If you prefer a thinner soup, you can add more broth.
As is, this recipe yields four cups of thick creamy soup. Top with a fried or poached egg if desired.
Garnish with a dollop or drizzle of sour cream or plain thick yogurt.