Eating your greens is a very healthy thing to do, right? But me personally, I’ve never much been into greens The urge for a green salad almost never hits me, and cooked greens can leave a strange “chalky” feeling in my mouth, which makes eating cooked greens unpleasant for me.
I decided to research this a little and found out that the chalky feeling is due to oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is an organic compound that naturally occurs in many dark leafy greens such as swiss chard, spinach, beet greens etc. When ingested, oxalic acid binds to minerals, particularly calcium and iron, and reduces the absorption of these minerals in your digestive track. Oxalic acid is also a big contributor to kidney stones.
Cooking your greens helps to break down and release the oxalic acid, and the longer you cook them for the more oxalic acid that is released. If you cook your greens in water, such as boiling them, then the oxalic acid is released into the water. Throw out the cooking water and you therefore minimize the amount of oxalic acid that you consume. However if you saute the greens, you are cooking them which causes the oxalic acid to be released, but the oxalic acid remains on the greens so you are ingesting it.
I remember when I was a kid I actually quite liked swiss chard (although I pretended not to!) and so I was puzzled why I wasn’t enjoying it when I cooked it myself. Well, mystery solved! My mum boiled the swiss chard, whereas I always sauteed it! Tada!
But back to eating more greens….I bought a lovely bunch of beets not so long ago and I went to chop off and throw out the beet greens (as I always do) when for some reason I couldn’t bear to throw them away this time. On a whim I decided to try using the greens to make a soup. I had a celery root (celeriac) in the fridge that I had also been meaning to turn into soup, so I decided to add onion, garlic and a few cups of homemade stock, and make soup. With my newly acquired information on oxalic acid, I decided to chop up and boil the beet greens first, drain them, and then add them to the soup. Although there is some mineral loss through boiling the greens, it is better to lose that pesky oxalic acid.
The result……one of the tastiest ways to eat my greens, ever! I love this soup and have made it several times now. I have tried a variety of different greens – beet greens, swiss chard, kale, mustard spinach and even stinging nettle! The type of greens that you use doesn’t really change the flavor much, but I mix it up for the nutritional variety and depending on what I have on hand. Each time I’ve made this soup I’ve used celery root because I love the substance and flavor that it gives to the soup, but I keep meaning to try other root vegetables such parsnip or rutabaga.
I love to eat this soup for breakfast – it’s warming, hearty, nutritious and easy to digest. It’s become my favorite way to eat my greens. No longer do I buy a bunch of greens with good intentions only to have them sit in the fridge and wilt as I remain uninspired. Now I buy bunches of greens specifically to make this soup! If you have a veggie garden and have more greens than you can manage, make this soup!
2 large bunches of greens* (chard, kale, beet greens etc.)
2 celery roots (approx. ¾ – 1 lb each)
2 tablespoons oil (butter/ghee/coconut oil)
1 large onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 celery ribs, sliced
4-6 cups stock (depending upon cooking time and desired thickness of soup)
½ cup chopped parsley or cilantro
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt (or to taste)
Dash of black pepper
1 – 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1. Use a large, sharp knife to cut off the outer layer of the celery roots to reveal the creamy flesh underneath. Chop the celery roots into chunks about 1/2 inch in size.
2. Heat oil in a large pot and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes or so.
3. Add the celery root and celery, sauté for another 5 minutes.
4. Add the stock, bring to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, until celery root is soft (about 20-25 minutes)
5. Meanwhile, rinse and chop each bunch of greens, removing the tough stalks from each leaf.
6. Add all greens into a large pot, cover with water and boil for about 5-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
7. Once the celery root is cooked, add the cooked greens and the (raw) parsley into the soup pot, along with the salt and pepper. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
8. Allow the soup the cool a little then blend to puree it – either in a blender or by using a hand blender in the pot. Add lemon juice and adjust salt to taste. Serve with a splash of yogurt, kefir or chevre!
*Your two bunches of greens don’t have to be the same type…..I usually use two different types, such as beet greens and kale, or kale and chard etc
This recipe was inspired by Green Soup by Traditional Foods.
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