Very Green Soup
Jam-packed with fresh leafy veg, this vividly coloured soup takes all of 10 minutes to make. The rice cake finish is a great trick for making a smooth velvety soup – and one you will use again and again when improvising your own soups.
2 tablespoons rapeseed or sunflower oil
1 small onion (about 75g), sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
½ garlic clove, grated (optional)
100g spinach, any tough stalks removed
100g flat-leaf parsley or watercress (or 50g of each), any tough stalks removed
About 400ml hot vegetable stock
2 plain rice cakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin hempseed or rapeseed oil, to finish
Put a large saucepan over a medium-low heat and add the oil. When hot, add the onion, carrot and garlic, if using. Sweat gently for 4–5 minutes, stirring regularly, to soften. Add the spinach and parsley and/or watercress, about three-quarters of the hot stock and some salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes until the leaves have wilted. Turn off the heat. Crumble the rice cakes into the soup, and stir in well. Leave for a minute so they get very soggy. Purée the soup in the pan with a stick blender, or blitz in a free-standing blender, until smooth and velvety. Return to the pan (if necessary) and reheat gently. Add a little more stock if it seems too thick. Taste, add more salt and pepper as needed, then serve, trickled with a little extra virgin oil, if you like.
Spring nettle soup You can use fresh young nettle tops in this soup, either in place of the spinach, or instead of the parsley/watercress. Use just the tenderest leaves at the top of the nettles, and remove any tough stalks. Give the leaves a good wash (wearing rubber gloves!) then add to the pan, with the other greens if using.
Six ways to soup it up
» Add a good squeeze of orange juice to the puréed soup; finish with grated orange zest
» Sprinkle some toasted flaked almonds over the soup
» Add flakes of smoked fish – hot-smoked mackerel is ideal
» Drop a generous sprinkling of chopped chives on to the soup
» Nasturtium or rocket flowers look beautiful and add a shot of peppery flavour
» Add a freshly poached egg before you tuck in