By Andrea Cullen
March 13th 2014
This sweet potato and spinach soup is lovely; which is a good thing as many people and kiddies and husbands and partners have an issue with a green coloured soup approaching it with a large degree of scepticism. Trust me it is worth a shot and if you like; adding a nice dollop of crème fraiche or creamy coconut milk mellows it down and adds a splurge of indulgence.
It is important to get in your greens; your Granny wasn’t just saying it for the heck of it. Green leafy vegetables contain lots of magnesium, vitamin K, plant based antioxidants such as beta-carotene and lutein, potassium, iron, calcium, vitamin C and small amounts of omega 3 fats to name but a few.
In a nutshell we should be eating leafy greens of some description every day.
I adopted this recipe from the ‘Cornucopia at Home; The Cookbook’; this is a wonderful book containing a collection of recipes from Dublin’s Cornucopia Restaurant.
The book is vegetarian; which ties in completely with my philosophy of marrying the strengths of the vegetarian way to the nutritionally complementary benefits of organic ethically reared meats and fish.
I wanted to reduce the fat content of the original cream of potato & spinach soup and switched the regular potatoes for sweet potatoes; I also didn’t have sufficient sweet potatoes to hand so the quantities got tweaked. The result rocked. Soup is a very adaptable meal and so feel free to play around with my own recipe suggestion.
Sweet potato & spinach soup ingredients:
- 1 onion – I always use red onions for the antioxidants contained in the red pigment
- 1 carrot
- 2 sticks of celery
- 1/2 large leek or 1 small leek
- 2 cloves of garlic or more
- Extra virgin olive oil or coconut butter or a blend of extra virgin olive oil and real Irish butter
- 1 ½ to 2 sweet potatoes
- 400g approximately organic baby leaf spinach (I didn’t have quite enough myself and the recipe still worked superbly)
- A good dash of grated nutmeg
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Fresh bone stock or stock made from gluten-free MSG-free stock cubes – approx 1 ½ litres or less depending on how thick you would like the soup I always have bone stock in the freezer ready to hand for making soups.
- Optional thickening using cornflour or my preference potato flour
- If I was someone suffering with inflammation problems or an athletic injury I would consider adding a strong dash of ground or fresh turmeric for healing benefits – for example 1 to 2 tablespoons.
- Wash all your vegetables well. I use Kangen 11.5 pH water.
- Peel the carrot and remove the outer layer from the leek, onion and garlic. The leaves can be left on the celery as these are edible also.
- Roughly chop the onion, carrot, celery, leek, and garlic.
- Place a dollop of olive oil, coconut oil and/ or butter in a large pot and heat on medium. Add your vegetables. Stir the vegetables to coat them with oils, turn the heat down and cover with a lid or as I do place a layer of greaseproof paper over the vegetables and under the lid to sweat the vegetables more effectively.
- Leave on a low heat to sweat the vegetables until they are soft. This will take approximately 15 minutes.
- Peel the potatoes and chop them into medium chunks.
- When the vegetables have sweated add the stock or bone stock and potatoes to the soup pot. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer on a low heat for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft.
- Wash the spinach and drain well. When the soup is cooked stir the spinach through; it will cook in less than 1 minute.
- Remove the pot from the heat; add the nutmeg and then using a hand-held blender a liquidiser or a food processor blend the soup until smooth. At this point, as I like a thicker textured soup, I add some thickening (potato flour – just a dash).
- Blend well until smooth. Season with sea salt and pepper.
- Bring back to a simmer before serving as it is or with a generous dollop of crème fraiche or thick coconut milk/ cream.
I actually served this with a dollop of hummus and a splash of my home-made chilli jam a recipe I have adapted from Nigella Lawson with the addition of fresh root ginger and caraway seeds. Basil Pesto also works well or home-made pesto such as my Healing Herb Pesto for Detoxification.
This soup can be enjoyed as a stand alone snack or with a serving of protein on the side such as smoked salmon or cold sliced meats.
Consider adding or substituting nettles for spinach once the spring nettles start appearing. I have written some recipes discussing nettles in the past; not as scary as I thought
If you are an athlete in training then you may need to bulk this meal up to add further clean carbos to the suggested soup and protein depending on your training and nutrition periodization phase (if you aren’t doing this already and you want to know more you may like to book an appointment); for example a sweet potato stuffed with hummus or bean dip, a serving of cooked rice, millet, buckwheat or quinoa or some healthy home-made breads for which I have a lot of recipes on this blog.
I freeze several portions of this soup for later enjoyment on those busy days!
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(“Shared Treasure” art by Josephine Wall)