Sure enough, it’s spring and the Biosyntrx test kitchen is turning green! This time of year you’ll find bundles of nutrient rich leeks in the supermarket, ready to chop, clean, and cook in this creamy-textured soup completely devoid of heavy cream.
With leeks, you want to use only the white and whitish green parts closest to the root. Chop off the long, dark green leaves and the root tip, peel off the outer most layer of skin, then split down the middle vertically and cut into ½-inch chunks. Put them all in a bowl of lukewarm water and swish with your hand to remove sandy silt. Drain and do it again until there are no remaining grains of dirt or sand.
The trick to making this soup bright green is blending in raw spinach leaves (packaged baby spinach works well). They will barely wilt and will retain all their fine vitamins and nutrients. We used an immersion blender first, right in the pot, then transferred the soup in batches to a blender to puree thoroughly.
The thickener in this soup is plain rice.
6 medium leeks, about 3 pounds
4 Tablespoons butter, olive oil, or half-and-half butter and oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of cayenne
½ cup white rice
8 cups low-sodium, no fat chicken or vegetable broth or water
10 ounces baby spinach, washed (just a little over half of a large 16-oz. bag already prepped)
Grated nutmeg to taste (optional)
A few spoonfuls of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
Thinly sliced chives or scallions for garnish
Prepare leeks as indicated above—chopping, cleaning thoroughly, and draining. Melt butter or butter and oil in a deep soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until leeks are wilted, about 10 minutes. You want them soft.
Add garlic, cayenne, and rice and cook for another minute until rice is coated with oil and beginning to turn translucent. Add hot broth or water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook until rice is very soft, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Puree the raw spinach with the cooled soup mixture in a blender until smooth. Adjust seasoning, add nutmeg if you like, and add broth or water if you want it a little thinner. Heat just before serving and garnish with a dollop of cream or yogurt and a sprinkling of chives or scallions. (It’s also good cold or at room temperature.)
Leeks are a great source of vitamins A, C, and the B vitamins: folic acid, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin. They also contain minerals potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and selenium. The dialyl disulfide in leaks converts to the antioxidant, allicin (think less powerful onions and garlic), when the leeks are cut or crushed.
Serves 6 to 8.
Ellen Troyer with Kathryn Eastburn and the Biosyntrx staff
(Adapted from cooking.nytimes.com/recipes, David Tanis’s Bright Green Leek Soup)