Swamp Soup

It’s not a super appetizing name, but I still kind of love it.  I make this soup when I feel like I need a massive amount of vegetables.  Post-Christmas cookie binge, I knew that swamp soup would be necessary.

I was first introduced to the idea of this soup on 101 Cookbooks , which is one of my go to blogs. Now that I’ve moved to Berkeley, I secretly delight in being able to find some of Heidi’s esoteric ingredients. Between Berkeley Bowl and the farmers’ market at the Ferry Building, I find myself stalking up on things like pomegranate molasses and Christmas lima beans whenever I come across them. If I find something new and interesting, chances are good that Heidi already has a recipe for me to try out on her website.

My swamp soup was inspired by the Green Ginger Soup recipe on 101 cookbooks. I actually loved this soup so much that I bought Love Soup by Anna Thomas on the strength of this recipe alone. It’s a fabulous cookbook, and as someone who thinks soup and a piece of crusty bread is the perfect lunch year round, this book gets a very prominent place on my (overstuffed) cookbook shelf.

But, my swamp soup has evolved (or perhaps devolved) past Anna Thomas’ fabulous and refined recipe. Start by caramelizing an onion over very low heat. Keep this going while you work on the rest of the soup. Then, I saute whatever sweet vegetable I happen to have around, usually butternut squash or a sweet potato in a little bit of olive oil, with a lot (LOT!) of diced fresh ginger. If you have other vegetables you want to toss in, this is a good place. I also sometimes will dice up an apple and add it in now. Once the kitchen smells good and there is a lot of good color on the veggies, I add some veggie stock to the pot. We make a roasted vegetable stock and freeze it in 4 cup containers, so I always thaw one of those for this soup. You could just as easily use a vegetarian Better than Bouillon in 4 cups of water or store bought veggie stock. When your cubes of butternut squash (or sweet potato) are soft, go ahead and dump whatever leafy greens you have into the soup pot. You want a mound of dark green vegetables so large that it looks like you could never possibly eat it all. I usually use one of the large bags of baby spinach and a big bunch of Swiss Chard. You could just as easily sub in kale or any other leafy green you have around. Stir the greens into the soup pot, and let them wilt down. After another 5 minutes or so, add the caramelized onions to your soup pot.

At this point, the soup can become dangerous. If you have a good immersion blender, you’re safe. You want to puree the soup until smooth. It should develop a wonderful green hue. If you’re not lucky enough to have a good immersion blender, carefully transfer the soup to your blender and blend it in batches. If you can avoid covering your kitchen in wonderfully spicy green soup, you’ll be ahead of me!

This soup is a truly awesome green color. Since green is my favorite color, and I don’t mind the looks of disgust that people give me when I’m drinking a green smoothie, it’s perfect for me. If you need more convincing though, this soup has a sweetness from the butternut squash and caramelized onions tempered with spice from the ginger, plus so many leafy greens that you can’t help but feel virtuous after eating. It tastes great, but I think the name and color just bring it to a whole new level. Who doesn’t like something called Swamp Soup?

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