Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hearty Greens and Grains Soup with Yogurt

I am never without some sort of fresh greens in my fridge. I long ago abandoned lettuce for spinach or arugula in my salads and sandwiches, usually toss a handful in my smoothies, and it seems like I scarcely scrambled an egg or make an omelet without tossing in some hearty greens. As much as I love all those things, sometimes winter calls for something a little more warm and comforting, and that's when I start sneaking mass amounts of greens into my soups.

The internet abounds with reliable websites full of delicious recipes, but sometimes there's nothing better than flipping through a brand new cookbook, bookmarking recipes along the way. With all of those free resources I've become a lot more selective about what books I'll actually purchase, but when I saw Mollie Katzen's newest book on clearance (at TJ Maxx, of all places), I didn't hesitate for a second. I've long been a fan of the books of Moosewood Collective, and the ones I own are the source of several of my most-treasured recipes (e.g. Black Bean and Sweet Potato Hash). Mollie Katzen's recipes are the kind that make carnivores love vegetables and vegetarians celebrate their choice, ranging from the elegantly simple to elaborate afternoon-worthy projects. This recipe is the former, a simple combination of whole grains and hearty greens, simply seasoned, and enriched just enough with olive oil and yogurt. Be sure to add the yogurt gently at the end after it has cooled a bit, so it doesn't separate or curdle.

I made this with Earthbound Farms Power Deep Greens Blend and brown rice, but there's plenty of room for experimentation with other combinations of greens and grains. This soup is shockingly filling for the low calorie count and short list of healthy ingredients, so feel free fill up a giant bowl without any guilt.

Hearty Greens and Grains Soup with Yogurt
adapted from The Heart of the Plate by Mollie Katzen
makes 5 or 6 servings (as a side) or 2 to 3 as a main course

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups minced onion (1 large)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 tablespoon minced or crushed garlic
1/2 pound (or more) fresh spinach or other hearty greens, washed, stemmed, and coarsely chopped
3 cups water or vegetable stock or low-sodium store-bought broth
1 cup cooked brown rice (or other whole grain like quinoa, barley, etc.)
1 cup plain yogurt, at room temperature
Fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Black pepper

1. Place a soup or Dutch oven over medium heat for about a minute, then add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onion, cumin, turmeric, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the onion becomes soft. Add the garlic and another 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, reduce the heat to low, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so. Toss in the spinach plus the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir, then cover and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes longer.

2. Add the water or stock, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook over the lowest possible heat for 10 minutes.

3. Turn off the heat, let cool slightly, and stir in the rice and yogurt. Add lemon juice, a splash a time, to taste. Taste again to adjust the salt and add black pepper to your liking. It's now ready to serve.

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