One challenge of limiting my grocery store runs to just once a week is that by the time the weekend rolls around, my produce drawer is left holding some pretty sad-looking vegetables. A few droopy kale leaves, some celery, a lone zucchini… it’s hard to use it all up, but I’m really never a fan of throwing produce away, especially during times like these. My answer? This big green immunity-boosting vegetable soup that has become my current favorite Sunday afternoon cooking project. It has several things going for it. First, it solves the “what am I going to eat for lunch” conundrum that so many of us have found ourselves in with this new WFH situation. I’ve been known to eat it for lunch four days in a row, and it consistently hits the spot.
It’s also a great way to pack an inordinate amount of green veggies into one very delicious meal, ie. it’s an immune-boosting powerhouse. Which, heaven knows we could all use right about now.
And of course, it solves that produce drawer conundrum. Read on for my tips on prepping this soup, ideas for making it your own with whatever veggies you’ve got lying around, and the recipe card at the bottom of the post. Get ready to be a lean, green, feeling really good machine with this spring-ready soup.
The first thing to note about this soup’s ingredients is that you can vary them for equally delicious results. I like to stick with all green veggies because it turns the soup such a beautiful color. Think asparagus, broccoli, spinach, kale, sugar snaps, celery, broccolini… the skies the limit, but if you really want to throw in some carrots or red bell pepper? I won’t stop you.
You can also feel free to throw frozen veggies into the mix, especially if, like me, you’ve stocked up on lots of them as veggie insurance during quarantine. I’ve used frozen broccoli and spinach with great success in this recipe – just remember that with frozen spinach, you’ll want to decrease the amounts (see recipe card below for guidance.)
Soaked cashews are the secret to this soup’s satisfying creaminess. I keep a mason jar full of raw cashews soaking in water in my fridge, and I’ve been throwing them in soups and smoothies whenever I want a vegan dose of richness.
When I’m making a soup that’s all vegetables, it’s really important to include plenty of spices, herbs, and flavor-boosters like onions and garlic to make sure there’s a depth of flavor to really make it satisfying. In this soup, I’ve used all of the above – plus ginger for it’s warm spiciness and its myriad therapeutic benefits, including being a powerful antioxidant. Since this is a blended soup, you can just give them all the roughest chop since everything will get blitzed together later – perfect for a lazy cook like myself that doesn’t want to spend time mincing garlic.
And, as is the case with most soups for me, this one is all about some interesting toppings at the end, both for color, flavor and texture. You eat with your eyes first, and no one wants to eat a boring green blob of purée, except perhaps a baby, and we are sophisticated adults, people. So get creative! Nuts, seeds, herbs, a drizzle of greek yogurt, a sprinkle of everything spice — or get crazy and non plant-based with some parmesan or goat cheese.Of course, we must discuss the storage details of this soup since it makes a big batch. I keep it in a pot or in mason jars in the fridge for up to 5 days, and gently reheat on the stove or in the microwave. But really, there is nothing better than having a jar of this in the freezer, ready to go for a last-minute healthy meal or to drop-off to a friend who’s feeling under-the-weather. Keep it in the freezer for up to 2 months, and then thaw overnight in the fridge when you’re ready to eat. I usually double this recipe so I’m sure to have another meal for later.
Scroll on for the recipe for my Big Green Immunity-Boosting Vegetable Soup, and I’d love to hear in the comments if you guys give this it a try! And if you make it using other vegetables or spices, we’d love to hear about your adapted version, too!
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 6 asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2” pieces
- 2 cups broccoli (fresh or frozen), cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1” piece ginger, peeled and sliced
- 4 cups fresh spinach (or 1/2 - 1 cup frozen spinach)
- 1 cup cashews, soaked in water overnight or for at least 4 hours
- 1/2 cup whatever soft fresh herbs you have - parsley, cilantro, basil, mint, dill, chives — I love a mix
- 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon or lime
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken or veggie broth
- Before getting started, make sure your cashews have been soaking for at least 4 hours.
- In a large pot or dutch oven, warm the oil over medium heat, then sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes until it starts to soften. Add asparagus, broccoli, ginger, spinach, and cashews, cover and cook gently over medium-low until vegetables are cooked through.
- Transfer everything to a blender or food processor, add the coconut oil, lemon zest and juice, salt & pepper, and broth. Pulse into a chunky purée. At this point, you can add more broth if you want it to be thinner, but I like mine on the thicker side.
- Serve topped with chopped nuts, seeds, nutritional yeast, chopped avocado, everything spice, more fresh herbs, whatever looks yummy!
*This is delicious in the fridge for up to a week, or freezes well for up to 2 months.