Whether of Irish descent or not, many of us partake in some sort of St Patrick’s Day festivities as a kick-off to Spring. It can range from hiking in nature to appreciate the new green landscape, listening to an Irish jig or simply enjoying that pint of Guinness.
Christa Demment González, Master of Nutrition and CHLI’s Chef Instructor, has prepared a healthy celebration of spring green with a bright emerald soup.
Revitalizing Spring Green Soup with spinach, leek and potato (recipe attached below)
Caramelized Cabbage Wedges (never boil cabbage again after you taste this recipe!)
Scones or Irish soda bread
Pint of Guinness
Revitalizing Spring Green Soup
This recipe is inspired by Darina Allen’s recipe from Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ballymaloe, Ireland
The trick to this recipe is to add half the spinach after the rest of the ingredients have been cooked, to keep that bright green color and the nutrients of raw spinach. Additionally, it’s a mild soup, ready to take on more flavors if you’d like to add spring nettles, an old-fashioned spring remedy, or handfuls of chives and parsley. Handfuls of herbs are a great way to add flavor without over-salting.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 leek, rinsed and chopped, use only white and light green parts
½ onion, chopped
1 ½ cup potatoes, chopped (wash and leave skin on for more fiber)
2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups milk, low-fat or alternative milk such as soy, unsweetened nut milks
6 cups baby spinach, divided
Garnish with 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt or sour cream and sprig of rosemary
In a heavy soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and leeks, cooking for 3 minutes to soften and begin to be translucent. Lower heat to medium, add potatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then cover to sweat on low heat for about seven minutes. Add broth and milk and return to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring frequently until you can pierce the potatoes with a knife. Add half of the spinach and cook, uncovered for an additional two minutes. Remove from heat.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Alternatively, use an immersion blender carefully, blending directly in the soup pot. Then, add the other half of the fresh spinach and finish blending to a smooth consistency. Add herbs now if you’re using extra. Draw a circle with your garnish of yogurt, then drag a knife through it towards the center to make a four-leaf clover and eat your own good luck! Serve immediately with a side of warm cheddar scones or Irish soda bread.
“Don’t be scared of potatoes because of their high starchy carbohydrates. Remember everything in moderation. In this recipe the soup still tastes creamy, without the traditional heavy cream,” reminds Demment-Gonzalez. “Potatoes contain potassium, vitamin C, Vitamin B6, manganese, and even some protein. Don’t leave off the peel which holds many benefits including fiber.”
While in Ireland cabbage was traditionally boiled, modern preparations like this one, roasted hot in the oven, give it a good brown crunch that changes its reputation from slimy side dish to crunchy, caramelized, snack-able star.
The extra good news is that this cruciferous vegetable is packed with nutrients. Cruciferous veggies are a diverse group that includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, arugula, Brussels sprouts, collards, watercress and radishes. These vegetables also are rich in fiber and low in calories, a combination that will help you feel full and satisfied without overeating.
Some additional benefits of cabbage include:
- Keeps inflammation in check
- High in fiber which improves digestion
- High in Vitamin C to boosts your immunity
- Keeps your heart healthy
- Lowers blood pressure & cholesterol levels
- Is an excellent source of Vitamin K which improves brain health
- Boosts energy with B vitamins including B1, B2, and B6
Oven-Roasted Cabbage Steaks
Remove dark outer leaves and slice cabbage into ½ inch thick rounds. Brush with olive oil on both sides, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 17-20 minutes, watching carefully towards the end to not burn it, just get it caramelized golden brown.
Pint of Guinness
Remember the 1920’s Guinness Beer ad that touted “Guinness is Good For You”? Turns out that it may not be “as bad” as we thought, and may even include some beneficial properties when consumed in moderation. Studies done at the University of Wisconsin showed “And since beer is made with barley—a whole grain—it contributes some antioxidants (heart-healthy polyphenols), B vitamins, fiber and prebiotics to your beverage. The polyphenols from barley and hops show to lower cholesterol, reduce your risk for heart disease and protect against free radicals.”
The dark Irish beer has been found to reduce the risk of blood clots and improve blood flow and pressure. Remember to always drink responsibly and moderately.
So raise your glass to a healthy and happy St. Paddy’s Day, share a healthy meal with your family or read some limericks to cheer you up in this season of new growth. Maybe this year instead of chasing the snakes from Ireland, we can toast to eliminating the Covid pandemic from the world!
https://www.fromballymaloewithlove.com/recipes/spinach-soup (Our version does not use ½ stick of butter or heavy cream!)