At the beginning of the year, I made a commitment to myself to get back to healthier eating: fewer breads and desserts and more vegetables. I especially wanted to get back into the habit of having a salad for lunch, but so far I just haven’t been able to do it. With the weather so cold, salads just haven’t appealed to me, even ones with hot ingredients, like Taco Salad.
So I’ve been eating a lot of soups and stews and trying to get my vegetables that way. Yet I still felt I wasn’t eating enough of those green, leafy vegetables that are right at the top of the nutrient density scale. A few days ago I decided to experiment with making a soup that was both packed with nutrition yet still…edible! And though it won’t win any beauty contests, I think you’ll be amazed with how delicious this unabashedly healthy soup tastes.
I start with a base of split peas and use a pressure cooker to speed things up. For sweetness I add carrot and sweet potato (I used the white-flesh kind, just to keep from muddying the green color), and for their earthiness, I include some mushrooms.
Then come the greens, 2 pounds of them. I used what I had on-hand—bok choy, spinach, romaine, and some fresh collards from my garden—but feel free to use the ones that you like best. Fresh basil added at the end gives the soup a hint of a pesto flavor, and cashew butter adds richness and depth. I think you’ll find that every bite of this soup tastes different; in one spoonful you taste basil, but in the next you detect a certain sweetness, and just when you think you’ve figured it out, you notice the split peas. The color may be monochromatic, but the taste certainly isn’t!
Green on Green Soup
- 1 onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 3 carrots cut into chunks
- 1 sweet potato cut into chunks
- 1/2 cup split peas rinsed and drained
- 6 cups water
- 8 ounces mushrooms halved
- 2 pounds chopped greens —any combination of any greens such as kale, collards, swiss chard, spinach, romaine, bok choy
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoon celery salt optional
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh or frozen basil or about 2 tablespoons dried*
- 1 tablespoon cashew butter optional, but good
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt to taste
- –Optional Garnishes:
- Lemon slices
- Plain soy yogurt
Place the first 6 ingredients into a large pressure cooker, seal, and bring to high pressure. Reduce heat to maintain high pressure for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow pressure to come down naturally while you prepare the remaining ingredients. (For stove-top cooking, simmer until split peas are tender, about 30 to 45 minutes.)
When the pressure is down, use a hand blender to puree the soup. Or, blend in batches in a regular blender—be careful because this is hot and splatters easily. Add the next 6 ingredients (*and the dried basil, if you’re using it) and cook for about 30-45 minutes, until greens are completely tender. Add additional water if necessary to prevent soup from becoming too dry.
Add the remaining ingredients and use your blender again to puree the greens and mushrooms until fairly smooth. Check seasoning and add salt as needed, and thin with a little water if you find it too thick. Serve with additional lemon or try it with a spoonful of plain soy yogurt stirred in.
Want to see how healthy this soup is? Based on a 2000 calorie-per-day diet, it provides 41% of your calcium, 23% of iron, 167% of vitamin C, 612% of vitamin A (i.u.), 212% vitamin B6, 50% vitamin B12, and 143% of folicin. The only thing it’s low in is sodium!