Growing up we were all told about how healthy spinach was for us. Most of us also grew up with mums who had no idea how to cook spinach properly i.e. so it didn’t turn out as a slimy mess. The secret is never to over-cook spinach: serving it on its own, it only ever needs to be ‘wilted’. By that I mean steamed over hot water for 1 minute only or plunged in hot water only. But there is one fail-safe way of adding spinach to a healthy diet and that is in soups.
Spinach combines exceptionally well with almost everything. Just added a handful to macaroni and cheese for example to give it a delightful colour and flavour as well as adding essential nutrients easily.
For the health conscious, spinach is extremely low calorie. It contains huge amounts of anti-oxidants, those things that fight cancer and aging. It is rich in iron, something often lacking in a vegetarian and children’s diet.
The following sites provide further information:
Spinach pea and pepper soup with tomatoes:
You will need:
1 large pan/pot
Hand-held or electric blender
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion
1 potato (to help thicken the soup)
1 red pepper (capsicum)
½ lb of fresh tomatoes.
4 ounces frozen garden peas (for their protein value)
1 lb fresh spinach leaves
1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs OR basil to bring out the flavour of the tomatoes.
1 and a half litre vegetable stock
Prepare your vegetables: when preparing vegetables, do not soak them in water. Peel them dry and clean them by running cold water over them. This method retains the most nutrients.
Peel and dice the onion.
Wash spinach leaves by running cold water over them in a colander. Shred the leaves into small pieces.
Remove the core and the seeds from the red pepper and dice.
Peel and dice the potato.
Clean the tomatoes. If you prefer you can remove the skins beforehand by plunging them in boiling water to remove the skin. However, since most of the nutritional value lies within a few millimetres of the skin, I prefer to cook them with the skins intact and remove the skins after cooking. It is easy enough to do by pouring the soup through a sieve.
Prepare your stock:
To 1 & half litres of boiling water, add two stock cubes. Do not add salt as these already contain salt.
Add teaspoon of mixed herbs.
Add black pepper.
Stir until the cubes dissolve and the herbs are mixed in.
1. In a large pot/pan heat the olive oil over a low heat. You can check if it is ready by leaving one or two pieces of diced onion in it. When the onion starts to sizzle it is hot enough to add the rest of the onion.
2. Cook the diced onion over a low heat until the onion is transparent.
3. Add the diced potato and the sliced pepper.
4. Cover the pan with a lid and cook (sweat) the vegetables for 5 minutes.
5. Add the shredded spinach leaves, the peas and the tomatoes.
6. Add stock.
7. Increase the heat to moderate and bring the soup to a boil.
8. Reduce heat to slow/low and simmer for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft.
9. Remove from the heat and blend using your hand blender.
10. Pour through a sieve if tomato skins remain. ( I don’t bother unless I am feeding guests).
11. Return to the heat if necessary and serve with brown crusty bread.
Soup made the day before ensures all the herbs and flavours have time to blend properly. ‘Second day’ soup is always tastier than fresh made soup. This simple recipe freezes well and will each portion will provide 3-4 of your essential 5-a-day-vegetables.