Though I’ve always made it a point to eat healthfully for most of my life, I’ve noticed I’ve had to step that up a notch or two over the past twelve months. Having PHN and everything that goes along with it pretty much requires me to get as much nutrition as possible, or suffer the consequences of a less than comfortable life.
Fortunately, this isn’t too much of a stretch for me. Though I have a sweet tooth, more often than not I will satisfy it with some fruit (though, some days I will argue that chocolate is a fruit), I love most vegetables, very rarely drink my calories (read: I drink water only), and keep my meat intake to a comfortable minimum because I’m too broke – or cheap, depending on how you look at it.
Oddly enough, I find I’m having a harder time keeping up with the healthy food intake right now that I’m not working. Not for any particular reason – unless you blame the writer’s schedule, which involves keeping some fairly odd hours, none of which are very regular. Many days I’m up writing at 3am, while there are others when 4pm rolls around and I realize I’ve forgotten to eat. Oops! Bad Poor Girl, baaaaad!
Obviously, my lack of a get-ready-for-work routine was helpful in reminding me to eat my veggies and do so at regular intervals, and I could do with the daily reminder. But when one is on the job hunt, writing a book, keeping up with other writing deadlines, and trying not to let the pain & fatigue of PHN keep you in bed all day, one wants a quick fix for lunch. Something I can enjoy here at my tiny desk without worrying about cutting anything up or other other long, involved eating processes. Convenience food, per se, but not the crappy kind that comes in a grease-laden wrapper.
And that is why the good Lord invented soup.
I won’t take up too much of your time pontificating on the many virtues of soup, because I’ve done so here, here, and here already. However, I do want to take a moment to remind you all of the convenience factor of a good batch of soup: sure, it takes some prep time to get to the finished product, but once it’s complete, all you have to do is sit back, relax and eat. Sometimes, even without a spoon, as is the case with some chilled varieties. This makes soup a fabulous lunchtime option for we writer types, and that’s how I enjoyed mine today: with a big bowl of green soup.
See, I figured that if I was really going to be that lazy (or dedicated to writing) that I couldn’t even be bothered to tear up some leaves, pour some dressing over it and call it a salad, I might as well just drink ‘em. And since I don’t have a juicer, I decided the best way to drink my veggies would be in a soup. With almost all my favorite green veggies and just a touch of lemon juice and zest to bring out their fresh green flavors, this soup was filling, healthy, and a deliciously convenient way to get my veggies.
I’ve also found that making green soup is another wonderful way to make the most of your veggies, should you find yourself with too many of them and not enough fridge space or time to do them justice. Since you can make this soup a few days ahead, it’s a good way to clear out fridge space before your next big grocery run. You get a healthy meal option and there’s no wasted food – talk about a win-win!
As a final note, I wanted to remind you all that you’re more than welcome to use your favorite green veggies in your own version of Green Soup if you don’t like mine. I’ve seen many that feature only greens, some that are way more pea-centric, and others that start throwing in things I would have never thought to use in a soup. But I find that this combo, especially when you add the touch of sweetness from the peas and that wonderfully fragrant lemon zest, is a winner time and time again for me. The Meyer lemon yogurt is a nice alternative to a traditional creme fraiche soup topping (not to mention, less expensive), and its fresh, vibrant flavors really bring out the best features of the soup.
And goshdarnit, it makes it look kinda pretty, no? Pretty food is always appreciated, no matter where you happen to be enjoying your lunch. Now, let’s take a look at the recipe…
Green Soup with Meyer Lemon Yogurt (makes 4-6 servings; total cost per serving: $2.25)
For the soup:
2 T olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 c chopped broccoli (flowers and stems)
1/2 lb asparagus, chopped
2 c sweet peas
3 c coarsely chopped Swiss chard
3 c coarsely chopped kale
3 c fresh spinach
6 c vegetable broth
2 t Meyer lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste
For the Meyer Lemon yogurt:
1 c plain, nonfat Greek-style yogurt
Zest of one Meyer lemon
Pinch of salt
1/8 t tarragon leaves
1. Prepare the Meyer lemon yogurt by combining all ingredients in a bowl and mixing until smooth & creamy. Cover and refrigerate until the soup is ready to serve.
2. Heat a large pot or soup kettle over medium heat and add the oil. When oil is hot, add the garlic and onions, and sauté slowly until fragrant and translucent. Add a healthy pinch of salt & pepper, then add the chopped broccoli, asparagus and peas. Cook for about 5 minutes or so, until the broccoli & asparagus begin to soften.
3. Add the chard, kale and spinach and cook until just wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a slow simmer for about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Using an immersion blender (or working in batches with a regular blender), puree the soup until smooth. This may take awhile, as there are a lot of veggies, but by this time they should be soft enough to blend easily. Add the lemon juice and stir well. Check for seasoning and adjust according to taste with just a tiny amount of salt & pepper.
5. Serve the soup warm or chilled in large bowls. Place a generous dollop of Meyer lemon cream in the center of each bowl of soup, sprinkle extra lemon zest on top, and enjoy!