Conscious Cook: Embrace the March warmth with a healthy spring soup

Throw fresh greens into a springy soup.

Throw fresh greens into a springy soup.

MetroCreative Connection /Contributed photo

“May your troubles be less, And your blessings be more. And nothing but happiness, Come through your door.” — Irish blessing

The marvelous month of March arrives just in time to revive our winter-weary spirits. As the earth begins to reawaken, our bodies begin to yearn for lighter, brighter foods.

There is no better time to celebrate the restorative power of green ingredients such as cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli rabe, bok choy, arugula, herbs, lettuces, leeks, scallions, broccoli and kale.

Greens are a powerful component of a healthy diet, and some of the most invigorating foods we can consume. High in fiber content and superb for digestion, green foods may help stabilize blood sugar, lower cholesterol, boost immunity and have an impact on preventing heart disease.

Luscious, life-sustaining greens are loaded with antioxidants, as well as iron, folic acid, chlorophyll and magnesium and are a particularly good source of vitamins A and C.

For superior taste, conscious cooks may wish to choose organic greens as often as possible. Organic greens will have a cleaner, fuller, more robust flavor.

Choose greens that are intensely vibrant, with no yellowing or brown stalks or leaves.

Simple preparation will bring out the best in greens, and this makes for very little stress in the kitchen. Leafy greens can be transformed into a myriad of salads when combined with minced herbs, citrus fruits, berries, apples or pears.

Add a bit of cheese and a sprightly vinaigrette for high-level flavor. Add crisp crunchiness and color with fennel, cucumber, sweet peppers and celery.

Kale, Swiss chard and beet and mustard greens make a stunning and satisfying side dish when sauteed in olive oil, thinly sliced garlic and crushed red pepper.

Beet greens are also quite tasty when steamed and drizzled with apple cider vinegar.

Napa and green cabbage are both excellent in stir fries, soups, summer rolls and slaws. Bok choy can be enjoyed raw or sauteed and sauced with spicy Asian flavors for a zesty accompaniment to fish or chicken.

Spinach and broccoli are both wonderful additions to omelettes, a delicious and quick lunch or dinner choice.

As you celebrate all things green this month, may the road to preparing a delicious life rise up to greet you!

Celebrating Spring Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large sweet onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

2-3 teaspoons minced ginger

2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

4 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)

2 heaping cups broccoli stems or florets

2 cups chopped baby bok choy

4 cups tightly packed, roughly chopped kale, Swiss chard, beet greens or spinach

1 cup milk (2 percent or whole)

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Freshly chopped parsley or basil

Salt and black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large stock or soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion. Saute onion for 5 minutes, or until it’s clear and soft.

Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute, or until the garlic is very fragrant.

Add the potatoes and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Add the broccoli. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until tender. Stir in the bok choy, kale or other leafy greens, cover and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the kale is bright green and wilted.

Transfer the soup to a blender in batches to puree thoroughly, adding water as needed if the soup is too thick.

Return the soup to the pot and stir in the milk, whisking until smooth. Add ground nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.

Serve very hot, sprinkled with fresh herbs, if desired. Add a dollop of sour cream and a pinch of cayenne pepper for extra excitement.

Soup will keep in an airtight container for up to three days and can be frozen for 2-3 weeks.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook” writes about preparing a delicious life and presents healthy food workshops throughout New England. She is a professional cook, organic gardener and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teachers College.