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My mom has been inspiring me to indulge in nutritious greens for as long as I can remember.
She practices what she preaches, too. Which is not to say that I haven’t seen her eat a dozen chocolate chip cookies or an entire bag of gluten-free pretzels in one sitting before, but when it comes to heart-healthy leafy veggies, she unapologetically stacks them to the ceiling.
From a heap of wilted rainbow chard served under a gooey, golden crown of runny eggs to a peppery arugula “side salad” so enormous she needs a second plate for her entree, there’s no question that my mom genuinely loves wholesome goodies.
Luckily, I inherited this gene, and I consider myself a kale Caesar aficionado. When it comes to veggie strategy, though, I prefer to pack all of my favorite varieties in all at once.
Whether that’s stuffing handfuls of spinach and beet greens into my smoothies or – in the case of this recipe – blending nearly every magical morsel in my produce drawer into a lavish soup, it just seems more practical that way. Wouldn’t you agree?
Though the building blocks of this leafy liquid potion could be sauteed or even lightly roasted to start (particularly the sturdier aromatics like garlic, ginger, and carrots), throwing everything in the pot and simply adding stock makes preparing this meal a snap.
I keep an intensely-flavored homemade veggie broth in the freezer at all times for soup emergencies, but even plain water poured over the top produces delicious results in a pinch.
Wondering why I only instruct you to simmer for a short period of time? It’s simple:
Overcooking veggies is a straight up crime!
Okay, that’s not entirely true. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Law & Order. Sorry for yelling.
But it is factual, however, that heat can diminish the nourishing power of certain vitamins, whereas leafy greens may best retain some of their potential health benefits when eaten raw.
This can be kind of a toss-up, though. And it has nothing to do with salad (in this case).
If your goal is to transform your veggies into a delicious, warm bounty you can slurp with a spoon, the less they’re heated, the more likely certain vitamins and nutrients (like the vitamin C, B vitamins, and phytonutrients in leafy vegetables) are to be preserved.
Some types of healthy produce actually have more bioavailable nutrients after they’re cooked, like carrots (which offer higher amounts of vitamin C, carotenoids, and antioxidants) and tomatoes (which have higher amounts of available lycopene).
That’s the case here as well! Though vitamin content may be diminished in some areas, leafy greens that contain oxalic acid (like spinach and kale) actually benefit from a bit of cooking to break down this compound, and it also makes the healthy calcium and iron they contain more readily available in the body.
So there are some trade-offs. In my book, lightly cooking these veggies is the best way to go with this recipe, to max out not only on those nutritional benefits, but on the tasty flavor of the finished product as well.
This is why I reach for a rich, concentrated liquid to create the base, so that all the greens have to do is soften and cook down just a bit. (And FYI: I let my homemade vegetarian stock do its thing for hours, to soak in every ounce of my secret flavor weapons: nutty roasted garlic, earthy bay leaves, oniony leeks, and dried wild mushrooms, to name a few. You’re welcome.)
But wait, there’s more!
First, though one dried seaweed square may not seem like much, a little goes a long way when it comes to these vitamin C-packed sheets.
Also, your body can do a lot of things, but it can’t make iodine, which is an essential micronutrient. Nori is an iodine-rich, briny, and nutritious addition to an already healthful soup.
You can even crumble up any extras for a crunchy topping, but I’ve been a big (HUGE) fan recently of garnishing creamy soups with savory granola.
In the spice department, I can’t say enough good things about turmeric, and I also can’t stress enough that it will stain your dog if you accidentally drop some onto his fur. Hey, it’s not my fault Walter wanted to play sous chef…
If you can find it, fresh turmeric root works like a charm here (use the same amount as the ginger if you swap in fresh for powdered) and this potent antioxidant-rich ingredient is one robust brain food.
Not only does it aid in pain and inflammation reduction, it may help with easing digestive disorders and allergies, and may even help to protect against certain forms of cancer.
I know, right? Turmeric for president.
Thanks to a dash of smoky cumin, a hint of fiery cayenne, and a pinch of fragrant dried Italian herbs, every mouthful of this glorious green soup is crammed with complexity.
A bowl of this hearty healing elixir will do your body good whether you’re under, or over, the weather. Make a double batch and freeze the second portion for when the sniffles sneak up on you. You’ll thank me later.Print
Fill your bowl and soothe your soul with this fiber-rich and nutritious green healing soup that’s loaded with ginger, garlic, and tasty veggies.
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
- 6 cups chopped fresh kale, stems removed
- 2 cups chopped baby spinach
- 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
- 1 sheet dried raw nori seaweed, roughly torn
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh)
- Pinch cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more to taste
- 8 cups vegetable stock (or water)
- 1/4 cup sour cream, for garnish (optional, or use dairy-free)
- In a large 4-quart stockpot over medium-high heat, add 1/2 cup of the parsley, the kale, spinach, carrots, garlic, ginger, seaweed, Italian seasoning, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and salt. Pour the stock in, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
- Using a hand-held immersion blender (or slightly cooling and then transferring the soup to a high-speed blender in batches), puree until smooth, and then season to taste with additional salt if necessary. Reheat the soup before serving if you cooled it and transferred to a high-speed blender.
- Ladle the hot soup into bowls, and garnish with even portions of the sour cream and remaining parsley.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Vegetarian
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Soup
Keywords: greens, soup, vegetarian
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Chop Veggies and Aromatics
Peel the carrots, ginger, garlic, and turmeric if using the fresh root. Remove the stems from the parsley and kale.
Chop the parsley, kale, spinach, carrots, garlic, and ginger. Tear the seaweed sheet into small pieces. Make sure to set aside 1 tablespoon of the parsley for garnish.
You can find uncooked, unsalted nori sheets in the Asian section of most grocery stores, or online via Amazon. If you can only find a salted version, reduce the salt in the soup to 1 teaspoon.
In a large 4-quart stockpot over medium-high heat, add 1/2 cup of the parsley along with the kale, spinach, carrots, seaweed, garlic, ginger, Italian seasoning, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and salt.
Step 2 – Simmer and Puree the Soup
Pour the water over top and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and continue to cook for 15 minutes.
As an alternative, you can also bring the stock to a boil first, along with all of the veggies and spices except the parsley, kale, and spinach.
Once the liquid boils, turn the heat down to a simmer and add the leafy greens then, or in the last few minutes of cooking so they’ll just wilt, rather than cooking from the beginning with the heartier veggies.
Using a hand-held immersion blender (or slightly cooling and then transferring the soup to a high-speed blender), puree the soup until it’s smooth.
Taste and add additional salt if necessary.
Step 3 – Garnish and Serve
Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with even portions of sour cream and the remaining tablespoon of parsley.
To make this soup vegan, use a drizzle of coconut milk in place of sour cream, or try a dairy-free version.
Get Your Green on
Turns out Kermit the Frog was wrong. It’s totally easy being green!
Don’t let my ingredient list hold you back. Broccoli on sale? Throw it in. Bok choy found its way into your basket at the store? Go for it.
To spruce up your garnish game, I recommend things that go crunch like toasted pine nuts, fried shallots, or crispy breadcrumbs.
And speaking of flavor additions, caramelized onions never hurt anybody. If you’re a fan, toss some in!
Wondering what other creative ways there are to load up on leafy greens? These recipes will steer your diet in the right direction:
I like a bright swirl of sour cream on top to contrast the soup’s deep green hue, but cheese will also do the trick.
Tangy chevre? Briny feta? How will you liven up the surface of your soup? Share your secrets in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on January 11, 2015. Last updated on June 7, 2021.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”