This time of year, I really begin to crave something green. A lot of time that is a salad or some kind of raw green vegetable, but this spring has been so cold and nasty that I also still want comforting, warm, creamy soup. And this soup takes care of all those cravings at once. Alas, it is still much too cold to be growing spinach here [maybe next year, if we decide to heat the greenhouse!], so for this, I used a 1 pound bag of organic spinach. You might have trouble finding mature spinach, instead of “baby spinach” but the bigger leaves will have more flavor. If you can only find the baby stuff, it will work just fine.
Other than that, this takes only a few simple ingredients, and a half hour or so to make.
I usually try to get some herbs started early, but this year I fell far short of that goal [as in, I planted them yesterday]. Fortunately, I was thinking ahead and nearly 35 years ago, I gave birth to a daughter who would start some thyme back in January, and give me one of her plants when I begged for it. Larry says that sometimes I plan too far ahead, but I disagree, and this cup of thyme is the proof.In addition to the spinach, you want to make sure you get some shallots. Shallots are the perfect choice from the onion family for this – kind of a cross between garlic and onions, but with mellower notes that won’t overpower the spinach.Let’s get this done!
- 2 large shallots [about 6 ounces total]
- 2 tablespoons butter
- sprinkle of kosher salt
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 16 ounces fresh spinach, washed
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme [1 teaspoon dried]
- 1 teaspoon fresh minced or ½ teaspoon dry dill weed
- 4 - 5 ounces feta cheese, cut in small dice
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Cut the shallots in a small dice
- Melt the butter in a 5 quart soup pot, over low heat.
- Add the shallots and a sprinkle of kosher salt - cook over very low flame for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent any browning. You just want them to get soft.
- Add the stock and the spinach.
- Add the thyme and dill and cover the pot.
- Keep at a low simmer for about 1o minutes, until the spinach is completely wilted.
- Take off the heat, and stir in the cheese, replace the lid and let sit for around 10 minutes, until cheese is very soft.
- In two batches, puree everything in the blender. Be careful, as hot soup can splash in a blender - remove the center part of the cap, cover with a folded dishtowel, and start out at a low speed, gradually increasing the speed up to the puree setting. You want it to be completely blnded and smooth.
- Return the soup to the pot, and taste, adding more kosher and freshly ground pepper as needed.
- Add the cream, and over a low flame, bring the soup back up to serving temperature.
- Serve with a few fresh thyme leaves for garnish.
Doesn’t that look tasty? The perfect blend of springy greens and late winter comfort food.