Thinking it prudent to ease my way back into my standard fiber-packed, high-raw diet after recovering from a stomach bug over the past few days, I again substituted my green smoothie for oatmeal and required a more digestively-friendly lunch than my usual ginormous salad. However, I could hardly bear the notion of avoiding my best friends, the leafy green veggies, for the third day in a row, and immediately recalled the poetic waxings of Anna Thomas in her tome of comforting recipes, Love Soup. Thomas devotes an entire section to green soups, utilizing unique flavor and ingredient combinations that consistently yield intriguing, mouthwatering results, focusing always on paying the royal green leafies their well-deserved respect. Inspired by Thomas, I set out to craft a creamy soup rife with vegetables rendered more easily digestible through cooking and pureeing.
This soup receives a tangy undertone from the sweet potatoes and basil, as well as a quadruple dose of umami from the mushrooms, miso, tahini, and nutritional yeast. In regards to the digestive benefits of particular ingredients, kombu increases the digestibility of anything simmered with it (most commonly beans and grains), coconut oil harbors anti-inflammatory properties while the body can more easily digest its medium-chain fatty acids, basil contains a compound called eugenol which eliminates muscle spasms to ease gas and stomach cramps, and miso I spoke of yesterday (basically, it’s fermented and therefore magical). I served this over a bed of brown rice with a garnish of sauerkraut—both also players in the game of digestive health. Scrumptious tummy happiness, here we come!
Creamy Green Soup with Sweet Potatoes, Mushrooms, and Basil (Nut Free, Soy Free, Can be Oil Free, Low Fat, Low Sodium)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil (optional; see oil-free instructions below if desired)
- 3 shallots, minced
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 2-inch square of kombu seaweed
- 5 cups water or low-sodium vegetable broth
- About 2 lbs leafy greens, chopped (I used mostly collards with a hearty salad mix of mustard greens, baby kale, mizuna, and tat soi thrown in)
- 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tbsp dried basil
- 2 tsp miso
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Add the shallots, garlic, carrots, and sweet potato and saute for about 5 minutes, until shallots are transluscent. Add the water and kombu and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15-30 minutes, until vegetables are very tender.
Oil-Free Instructions: Combine the ingredients shallots through water/vegetable broth in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are very tender.
Remove the kombu and discard. Remove soup from heat. Puree using either a regular or immersion blender.
Return the soup to medium heat and add the greens, one handful at a time, until wilted. Add the mushrooms and dried basil, stir well to combine, and simmer for another 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, dissolve the miso in a couple tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Stir in the tahini and nutritional yeast to form a smooth paste.
Once the soup has finished simmering, remove it from the heat and puree again. Stir in the miso-tahini mixture. Serve over a bed of whole grains.
Local Ingredients: Carrots and collard greens from the Poughkeepsie Farm Project.
Comment Provoking Questions: How do you ease your way back into regular eating habits after stomach troubles? What are your favorite ingredients to use in green soups?
Until next time, Ali.