One of the first things Sam and I did after we got the keys to our new place was to sign up for a CSA membership. It’s been great fun so far, having a big box of exuberantly dirty produce show up quietly on our doorstep every other week. We stuff it all into the fridge, and then methodically cook or snack on it for the next fourteen days. Normally I relish this kind of cooking challenge–being handed a bunch of ingredients and told, “Go!” But, if I’m being honest, my creativity has been wearing a little thin.
So this recipe is a case of extremely fortunate timing. Last Tuesday, I opened our CSA box to find, among other things, a huge bunch of dinosaur kale, three bundled broccoli heads, a bunch of gorgeous carrots, and a lemon. On Wednesday, I opened up my RSS reader to find a Food in Jars post with a soup recipe calling for kale, broccoli, carrot, and lemon. All it took was putting two and two together, and I had lunch for the rest of the week.
Marisa from Food in Jars calls this “hippie soup,” which seems accurate. For one thing, it starts by boiling vegetables instead of sweating them in oil. You just toss a big pile of greens and herbs, an armful of broccoli florets, some alliums, and a grated carrot into a pot with water, and cook everything until it’s blendable. The recipe called for nutritional yeast, which I didn’t have and don’t intend to buy. But I had some white miso in the fridge, and figured that adding it would give the soup body and savory saltiness. I also tweaked the ingredients a bit based on my mood and the contents of the fridge, swapping scallions for onions and skipping the spinach in favor of more kale. The soup came out vividly Christmas-green, and the flavor was surprisingly complex–I was worried it’d be bitter, but it was mellow and herbal instead. It definitely tasted “good-for-you” green, but in the best way. (I suppose this is how people feel about green smoothies, but I like this soup way better than any green smoothie I’ve ever had.)
Normally, when I write recipes, I try to give approximate weights and volumes for things like “a bunch of kale” or “the juice of a lemon.” But I’m not doing that here, because precision really, really does not matter with this soup. This kind of recipe begs to be fiddled with, and the greens and herbs are totally interchangeable. I used kale and parsley, but this recipe is a great use-up for whatever greens and leafy herbs you have around–chard, spinach, radish greens, beet greens, turnip greens, collards, carrot tops, cilantro, arugula, watercress, etc. You want about half the mass of the soup to be leafy greens and herbs of some kind, and the other half to be broccoli, scallions, carrot, and garlic. Beyond that, go nuts.
Green Vegetable Soup with Miso (serves 4)
Adapted loosely from Food in Jars
Note: This soup makes great leftovers, with a couple of caveats. First, you’ll probably want to add a bit more fresh lemon juice when you reheat the soup. Second, I’ve been told that boiling can destroy some of the healthy compounds in miso, so don’t let the leftover soup boil when you reheat it. Alternatively, you could leave out the miso initially and add it in as needed–I’d say start with about 1 tbsp miso per 1 1/2 cups of soup.
3 cups vegetable broth or water, plus more as needed
1 bunch curly kale or lacinato (dinosaur) kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
Leaves from 1 bunch (or most of a bunch) parsley
Florets from 1 bunch broccoli, cut or broken into 2-inch pieces
1 bunch (or most of a bunch) scallions, chopped
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) white miso, or to taste
Juice of half a lemon, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, bring broth or water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add kale and parsley leaves, stirring until they wilt. Add broccoli, scallions, carrot, and garlic, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to keep the soup at a steady simmer. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are completely tender but not mushy.
Remove the soup from the heat and puree with an immersion blender, or in batches in a stand blender. (Let it blend for a while–you want the soup to be as smooth as possible.) Add water as needed to thin the soup to a consistency you like. Cover and let the soup stand for 10-15 minutes to let the flavors meld. If needed, reheat the soup until it steams.
Transfer a ladleful of the hot soup to a small bowl. Add miso and whisk until smooth, then stir the mixture back into the soup. Taste and add lemon juice, salt, and pepper as needed. If you think the soup needs more miso, ladle off a bit more hot soup and whisk it in as before. Serve warm. Leftover soup will keep, tightly covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days; the color will turn drab over time, but the flavor will actually improve a bit.