The recipes that reappear in our regular meal rotation time and again tend to be the recipes that lend themselves well to substitutions and swap-outs. This creamy, nutritious soup is just such a recipe. I’ve made it with broccoli and with cauliflower (flowers of the brassica family), as well as a mix of the two. The sweet greens I have tried include spinach, chard, and beet greens. Cashews, pistachios, or a blend of the two have served as the soup’s creamy base. By now, I’m convinced that nearly any brassica flower, sweet green, and “soft” nut combination will do.
Soaking the nuts in cold water for at least an hour before pureeing the soup results in a rich, smooth texture. The nut puree adds protein and “good” fats while avoiding dairy, which is one of my allergens. Roasting the brassica vegetables before assembling the soup deepens their flavor, adding an enticing complexity even without additional spices (although some cumin or smoked paprika would offer a whole new flavor horizon here…) You can use chicken or vegetable broth, depending on whether you want the soup to be vegan. Finally, coconut milk enriches this delicious soup, but can also be replaced with additional broth to save fat and calories, if desired. I hope you’ll have fun playing around with this recipe and making it your own.
Creamy Brassica and Sweet Greens Soup
1/2 cup raw cashews and/or pistachios
1 cup cold water
2 Tbsp olive, grapeseed, or avocado oil
1 head broccoli and/or cauliflower
about 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive, grapeseed, avocado, or coconut oil
1 onion (red, yellow, or white)
5 to 6 cloves fresh garlic
3 to 4 cups sweet greens (spinach, chard, and/or beet greens)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup coconut milk (or an additional cup of broth)
Combine the nuts and cold water in a small bowl and set aside to soak for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Chop up the broccoli or cauliflower into florets or bite-sized pieces. Toss with 2 Tbsp oil and salt, and spread out in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring the pieces halfway through cooking, until nicely browned on the edges and fork-tender.
Meanwhile, coarsely chop the onion and crush the garlic cloves. Wash the greens and tear into pieces. (If using chard, remove the ribs, chop them, and cook along with the onions and garlic.) Heat the additional 1 Tbsp oil in a large pot over medium heat, and add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent but not browned. Add the greens and stir until they wilt (about 3 minutes for spinach or beet greens, and a few minutes longer for swiss or green chard).
Drain the soaking nuts. Add the nuts, the roasted broccoli/cauliflower, and the mixture from the pot into the canister of a food processor or powerful blender (I use a Vitamix). Add 2 to 3 cups of broth, depending on the amount of liquid that comfortably fits in your appliance. Puree until smooth. Return the pureed soup to the pot, add any additional broth or coconut milk, if using, and heat to a gentle simmer. Do not let the soup boil! Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes and serve hot. Makes 6 servings.