No, I’m not talking about the herb wintergreen, as in wint-o-green Lifesavers. (Though they’re one of my favorite flavors, and yes, they do shoot sparks if you crunch them in a dark room.) I’m talking about cabbage and spinach, two of those old reliable, unexciting green vegetables that stay with us through the winter.
And I’m talking about soup because it’s the cold, dark, sometimes discouraging season for it. Soup is not only comforting. It fills you up, often with fewer calories than solid food, and hydrates you. It also keeps all its nutrients instead of losing them when the cooking water is thrown out. You can — but I’m getting into another article here. On to the winter green soup.
I’ve been vague about the kind of stock or broth to use. This would be good with any kind of clear soup as a base — vegetable, beef, chicken, or especially turkey, made from your Thanksgiving leftovers. But the base doesn’t have to be homemade — if canned or instant is what you’ve got, don’t beat yourself up, just don’t add any salt till you’ve tasted your soup. Even tomato juice might work as a vegan option. (Tomato soup would be too thick, though.)
Browning the garlic gives it a little extra flavor, and cooking the cabbage along with it softens it up. But this step also adds fat, so if you’d prefer, start by just simmering the garlic and cabbage in the liquid for five to seven minutes. Spinach, by contrast, needs very little cooking and is at its best when just barely wilted and still bright green.
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ cup shredded cabbage
- 2 cups stock or broth (your choice)
- 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped fine
- Heat about a teaspoon of vegetable oil in a small saucepan.
- Add the garlic and cabbage.
- Cook, stirring constantly, till the garlic is just browning.
- Carefully add the stock or broth.
- Bring to a boil.
- Turn down and simmer for five minutes.
- Add the spinach — it will wilt when it touches the hot soup.
- Simmer five more minutes.
- Serve with sour cream and a sprig of fresh dill.
- Be careful not to burn the garlic, it can happen all too quickly.
- It’s ready when it just starts to give off that slightly nutty roast garlic scent.
- If your stock or broth is homemade you may have to add salt.