Eat your damn greens soup
My friend Oliver tells me that when it comes to eating his vegetables, he can be “such a child” – he generally finds it way more palatable to hide vegetables in soups, pies and the like. And I am pretty sure he is not alone. In particular, a soup is a soup-er (groan…) way to eat your veggies. And one of the good things about making a soup is that once you’ve successfully made one, it’s really easy to freestyle, improvise and rustle up more soups of your own invention. If there are some vegetables nearing the end of their useful life in the fridge, a soup ensures they won’t go to waste.
When it comes to vegetables that even grown-ass adults find it a chore to eat, green vegetables top the list for many of us. Not everyone is a holier-than-thou vegetable muncher and that’s completely fine. For me, celery is the one vegetable that I find to be a total drag. Not even a generous slathering of cream cheese will make me eat celery. But a couple of weeks ago, I needed a stick of celery for a stew and all I could find in my haste at Asda was a £1 packet of five sticks. I knew I’d never munch my way through the leftover four sticks, so I turned them into a soup.
But it was a soup that brought creamy joy to celery consumption. When I set about creating this soup, I thought – as I often do – of Paris. The soups one can find in pretty much any cafe in Paris are usually divine. Creamy, rich, flavoursome, just the right amount of salt… And now, with the encouragement of Zac, a food-loving friend who shares tips with me from Oklahoma, I have finally gotten around to writing this one up for Munching Matilda.
With this soup recipe, you can mix it up with vegetables other than celery. Since I made this celery soup, I have adapted it to use up spinach leaves (another epic Asda purchase! The bag was like a big, green cushion!) – so in the recipe, I have included the Greek-style spinach and feta variation.
When I created this one, I threw in some leftover mushy peas after my husband inexplicably bought enough mushy peas to feed a family of six when he went to the chippie a couple of Fridays ago. If you don’t have any mushy peas on hand, 50g of cooked frozen peas will add an extra hit of flavour and greenery. And thanks to the brilliant Jack Monroe’s anti-poverty campaigning work, I now know that Asda is selling tins of mushy peas for just 15p.
This soup recipe also features some diced bacon fried in butter, but obviously this is entirely optional. It’s not the most waistline-friendly soup recipe even without the bacon – and not everyone eats meat or indeed pork – so feel free to either use a bacon alternative or omit it altogether. I used my own vegetable stock for this recipe. Click here to find out how I’ve become self-sufficient in stock – but it is perfectly fine to use store-bought stock.
While I was writing this up, I was asked about soups for slow cookers, so at the end of the recipe, there is some advice on cooking this in a slow cooker.
30g unsalted butter, plus 20g extra if you add diced bacon (I prefer unsalted so I can control the salt levels – everyone’s mileage varies here)
Four sticks of celery, chopped into slices. (For the spinach and feta variation, use 400g of spinach leaves. Liz, a friend of Munching Matilda, suggests removing the stringy bits from the celery with a peeler to make it easier to blend)
1 white onion, finely chopped
Three cloves of garlic, crushed
400ml vegetable stock
300ml single cream (For the spinach and feta variation, add 200g crumbled feta)
50g mushy peas (optional, but it does add some nice extra flavour)
Seasonings: I like salt, pepper, dill and tarragon for the celery soup, and salt, pepper, oregano and rosemary for the spinach and feta variation). If you’re nervous with seasonings, start with half a teaspoon of each and then have a taste after you’ve blended it – and increase it as you see fit. I don’t like to be too prescriptive with seasonings because I tend to err on the side of too-much-seasoning-is-barely-enough!
150g diced bacon
- Melt 30g butter in a large pot and fry the onion, garlic and chopped celery (or spinach) until it starts to soften.
- Put the onion, garlic, celery, stock, cream, mushy peas and seasonings (and feta if you’re doing the spinach and feta variation) into the blender and blitz until smooth.
- OPTIONAL BACON STEP: Melt 20g butter in the large pot and fry the diced bacon until it is nicely browned.
- Pour the blended soup mix into the pot and heat through over a low heat, stirring the whole time. Have a little taste with a clean spoon and adjust the seasonings if you need more of a flavour punch). Serve piping hot but don’t let it boil.
(To do this in a slow cooker, put the vegetables, garlic, seasonings and stock in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours. Stir in the cream at the end, cook until it is warmed through, remove from the slow cooker and blend until smooth).