Soup is underrated. Often times, soup is considered a starter dish or a side to a more substantial sandwich or salad. Let me tell you: soup is awesome (especially for those of us keeping an eye on our wallets)!
My Greens & Ginger Soup in particular is chock full of vegetables and a hearty wild rice mix with a bit of Japanese influence through the scallions, sesame oil, fresh ginger root, and tamari. A bowl of this is sure to leave you warmed and satisfied.
This particular recipe gives a great base design for constructing a hearty, flavorful soup easily and on a budget:
- Pick a grain, any grain. I'm serious. I used a wild + brown rice blend for this soup because of the beautiful color contrast, but feel free to use something you have on hand in your pantry, or a new grain you're interested in trying. Grains like brown rice, wild rice, or barley will take 35-45 minutes to cook. Grains like quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and amaranth will take 10-20 minutes to cook. Make sure to keep the ratio of grain to water at 1:6 (1 cup grains to 6 cup water) so you'll maintain a broth for your soup. Organic grains are very inexpensive. I usually buy mine from the bulk section at health food stores. Although I don't use them in this recipe, beans and legumes can be added to your soup for extra protein and fiber at an incredibly low cost.
- Choose in-season (or frozen) produce. In-season (preferably organic and local) produce will not only be fresher and tastier, but also cheaper. I highly encourage finding a local farmers market to frequent. Not only will you find in-season produce, but striking up a conversation with the vendors can help you find new fruits, vegetables, and herbs to experiment with. The markets near me usually have an "everything-must-go" approach towards the end of the day and give you great deals on their produce, too. If you don't have a farmers market near you, good grocery stores should have in-season produce at lower prices or consider signing up for a CSA delivery. Another valuable option is buying some organic frozen produce. They're usually inexpensive and are packed at the height of freshness, so much of the nutrition remains intact. Frozen peas, corn, broccoli, and beans are handy additions to soup when you're in a bind. This is a great chart from my San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market on what vegetables are in-season each month. Choose your favorite, inexpensive veggies and throw them into your soup!
- Add some spice. With this particular recipe, I went with a more Japanese-inspired flavoring using sesame oil, fresh ginger root, and tamari. As a rule, I always saute garlic in a bit of oil before adding other seasonings, my grains, water, and my veggies. Feel free to add a chopped onion or shallot in with the garlic along with some oregano and chopped tomatoes for a more Italian-inspired dish. Go for Thai-style by adding some cayenne pepper to the garlic, maybe a small amount of coconut milk, then topping the soup with Thai basil and squeezes of lime juice. Go crazy with the flavor combinations here!
Greens & Ginger Soup
1 tbs. toasted sesame oil
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 inch long piece of ginger, cut into a few large chunks
1 c. wild rice blend or long-grain brown rice
6 c. water
2 tsp. sea salt
2 c. broccoli florets
1 c. fresh or frozen peas
1 c. green beans, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 tbs. tamari
Heat the sesame oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced shallot, garlic cloves, and ginger chunks and saute for about a minute until the shallot begins to wilt and caramelize. Add the rice and stir for another minute. Add the water slowly to the pan, being careful not to let it overboil. Add the salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 35-40 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and tender. Remove the ginger chunks with a slotted spoon and discard.
Once the rice is tender, add the broccoli florets, peas, and green beans directly to the pan. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the vegetables are al dente tender. Add the tamari to the pan, stirring to combine. Ladle the soup into bowls and enjoy!