The other day, I knew exactly what I needed. Greens. And lots of them. I’m not big on technique, but blanching can change how you look at life -literally. Check out the picture above. There’s no photoshop work here. That’s the real deal. Three words: Bright. Green. Healthy. If you’re anything like me, what your food looks like matters. What would have happened to the soup had I not blanched the vegetables first? Think muddy green. Can you see it? Not so appetizing.
But the beauty of blanching goes beyond the superficial. Blanching only takes a few minutes at most and will actually save you time in the long run. After blanching, all you need to do is blend the vegetables with a few more ingredients and cook the soup on the stovetop just until heated through.
So what is blanching exactly? All it means is that you’re going to bring a large pot of water to a boil, add vegetables and cook until bright green and fork-tender, then you’ll dunk them into a big bowl of ice water and drain. Easy, right? Absolutely.
When I make this soup, I use whatever green vegetables and herbs I have in my fridge's vegetable drawer. I've used kale, asparagus, green beans, sugar snap peas, snow peas, spinach, zucchini, celery, basil, parsley, cilantro. The list goes on and on, really. Please improvise with this recipe. The only ingredient you'll need to adjust is the broth. Just add enough liquid until you reach your desired consistency. If I have any leftovers and I'm feeling decadent, I'll melt in some shredded cheddar in the last few minutes of cooking.
¼ cup olive oil plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3 zucchini, trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup snow peas, trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
½ bunch loosely-packed kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 cup loosely-packed fresh parsley or basil
About 2 cups vegetable broth, chicken broth or water (NOTE: Add more or less liquid to reach your desired consistency.)
Salt and pepper
- In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Prepare a large bowl with ice water. In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the zucchini, celery and snow peas until fork-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Dunk into the prepared ice water bowl; drain and pat dry. Blanch the kale, spinach and parsley until bright green, about 45 seconds; drain and pat dry, then squeeze out any extra liquid. Place the onion mixture and half of the blanched vegetables and parsley in a blender; process until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the remaining ¼ cup olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Return to the pot, stir in the broth, remaining vegetables and season to taste with salt and pepper; cook over medium heat until heated through, about 5 minutes.