It’s as cold now as it ever gets here in sunny California. I’ve busted out the silk long underwear, never take off my new fuzzy white hat, and eat soup with breakfast, lunch and dinner to keep warm. I cheer myself up by making camping reservations for the summer. My January maintenance plan: the perfect triad of running, dancing and yoga, and more green soup, less of everything else. Green smoothies may be all the rage, but green soup is a better choice for cold weather and offers milder, but real, cleansing effects.
Green soup happily incorporates the produce of the season. I adore the interesting roots and fruits of wintertime: celery root, with its intimidating tangles concealing creamy off white subtly perfumed flesh, squat aromatic fennel, complete with feathery fronds for garnish or salad, seductive pomegranate, wont to kiss you with an embarrassing spray of bloody juice, puddingish persimmons, seemingly already spiced with cinnamon. These delights may take a little more effort than the blowsy produce of the summer, delicious with just a splash of olive oil and salt, but winter produce provides sophisticated pleasures and deep nourishment, helping to warm our bodies and strengthen us to the core.
I’m using diced celery root and fennel in place of regular celery in dishes right now and enjoying the superior flavor. Favorite salad to go on the side of a warming winter stew, roast or braise: freshly grated celery root, apple, and parsnip (plus or minus sliced fennel, shredded cabbage, grated carrot or jicama) tossed simply with olive oil and lemon juice and finished with freshly grated nutmeg. Pomegranite seeds garnish everything, and a Fuyu persimmon is a portable and delicious snack or slices into salad happily, while the trickier Hachiya requires careful timing for a chin-slathering sensuous treat, preferably shared with an intimate friend.
Most of us want a break from the overindulgence of the holidays at this time of year, yet crave warming, hearty dishes to keep us fueled. Making soups and stews is a great way to fill that bill. I recently had minor surgery and my go-to food for easy prep and improved healing was this aromatic green soup. If you want to drop those few pounds so easily gained over the holidays, or simply prevent winter spread, try this New Year’s resolution: more green soup, less of everything else.
Cream of Green Soup
The fennel and tarragon lend their licorice taste to a silky puree of humble greens and sweet potatoes, creating a balm for your gut and your spirits that can be eaten at any time of day. Garnish with sauerkraut, crème fraiche or herb pesto for extra nutrient and probiotic punch. In Chinese medicine language, this soup strengthens the spleen and lungs and moves the liver qi, while using bone broth makes it a kidney tonic. My favorite winter bone broth is made with a whole chicken carcass, a pound of chicken feet, and a couple ounces of Astragalus/Huang Qi to strengthen the immune system and prevent seasonal illnesses.
1 tablespoon lard, bacon grease, coconut or olive oil
½ yellow onion or 1 small leek, chopped
1 small bulb fennel, sliced (about ½ cup)
½ tsp sea salt
1 teaspoon each turmeric and curry powder
1 quart bone broth (see recipe in this post), vegetable stock, or water
1 cup kale, coarsely chopped
1 small sweet potato, diced (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons white or chickpea miso
1 teaspoon dried tarragon (optional)
1 lemon, juiced
In a medium soup pot, heat the fat on medium high heat. Add the onion, fennel and salt and sauté until the onion begins to turn clear, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spices and sauté until well distributed and fragrant. Add the bone broth, kale and sweet potato and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Add the miso, tarragon and lemon juice and puree with a handheld blender until smooth, or allow to cool and puree in an upright blender. Taste for salt, pepper and lemon, and correct the seasoning.