Soup of leafy greens and herbs

Soup of leafy greens and herbs


3 people made this

About this recipe: Not only is this soup delicious, you can almost feel those vitamin-packed leafy greens doing you good as you eat it. Hearty but not too heavy, it is a wonderful dish for summer and autumn. You can use all sorts of greens – simply adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Norma MacMillan

Serves: 4 

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, white part only, cut into thin strips
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 slices Parma ham, about 55 g (2 oz) in total, trimmed of fat, then cut into thin strips or chopped
  • 150 g (5 1/2 oz) Swiss chard, spinach or spring greens, or a mixture, very finely shredded
  • 3 small ripe tomatoes or whole tinned tomatoes, diced
  • 1.5 litres (2 3/4 pints) chicken or vegetable stock
  • a pinch of crushed dried red chillies (optional)
  • 250 g (9 oz) small pasta shapes, such as conchigliette (shells) or ditalini (small thimbles)
  • salt and pepper
  • To serve
  • 55 g (2 oz) fresh basil, stalks discarded, then thinly sliced or torn
  • 4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tbsp chopped young rocket (optional)

Prep:25min  ›  Cook:30min  ›  Ready in:55min 

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the leek and onion and cook for 5 minutes or until slightly softened. Add the carrot, garlic, fennel seeds, parsley and Parma ham. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in the shredded greens and the tomatoes, and cover the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the greens are slightly softened, then pour in the stock. Add the crushed dried chillies, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer over a moderately high heat for about 5 minutes or until the shredded greens are just tender.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling water for 10–12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain well.
  4. Divide the pasta among 4 serving bowls. Ladle the soup into the bowls and sprinkle with the basil, grated Parmesan and rocket, if using. Serve immediately.

Some more ideas

Other greens that are good in this soup include Chinese leaves, pak choy, Chinese choy sum, kale and watercress. Coarser leaves, such as kale, will take a little more time to cook than tender leaves like watercress. * For a vegetarian soup with a Middle Eastern flavour, omit the Parma ham and use vegetable stock. Stir 150 g (5 1/2 oz) plain low-fat yogurt until smooth, then stir into the soup, off the heat. Add 3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander and the juice of 1/2 lemon (or to taste). Serve sprinkled with paprika and cayenne pepper to taste. * For a Chinese-style version, omit the fennel seeds, parsley, Parma ham, basil and Parmesan, and spice the soup with 1–2 tbsp peeled and finely chopped fresh root ginger and soy sauce to taste. Add 100 g (3 1/2 oz) firm tofu, cut into small cubes.

Plus points

Dark green, leafy vegetables, such as Swiss chard, spinach and spring greens, provide good amounts of the antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene, as well as the B vitamins niacin, folate and B6.

Each serving provides

A, B1, B6, E, niacin * C, folate, calcium, iron * copper

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