25 January 2011

Herb Soup...a bowl full of green goodness

Summer seemed to have done a runner this past weekend.  It was a wet, wet weekend, with that rain that we can get fairly frequently here in Auckland.  A steady heavy down pour that you know is settling in for the day and sounded like the pitter patter of a troupe of tiny little tap dancers on my corrugated iron roof.  That is the very reasonable price we pay for beautiful and green.  Looking out it looked Autumnal but step outside and it was so warm, like walking in to a tropical suburban jungle, the wind positively balmy.
Despite the heat, and what must have been a gazillion degrees of humidity, it put me in the mood for soup, not a hearty winter soup but a light bright summery soup.  As luck would have it a little tweet with the very concoction tweeted its way to me via the wonderful Ottolenghi and his column The New Vegetarian in The Guardian.  So I knew it would taste amazing, be full of good things and most likely be a totally new combination of flavours and aromas.  It succeeded on all counts.

It was something new to me; a herb soup.  I loved his idea of the herbs being the main feature and with all that greenery it just had to be so good for me.  On eating it you could almost feel all the green goodness just emanating through your body rejuvenating and refreshing it.

Herb Soup, adapted slightly from Ottolenghi

Tweaks were mainly on quantities to work with what I had on hand. It is soup after all so quantities don't need to be exact.   If you love mint add a little more, if you feel like a little heat add a few chilli flakes. However, if you are on the hate side of the love it or hate it side of the fence when it comes to coriander I would suggest you look for another soup as to leave it out completely, or replace it with something else, would transform this soup in to something quite different. 

I love coriander and had lots of it. Not so on the parsley front, as supply in my garden is starting not to meet demand, so a little less parsley used than in the original.  The dried mint was a casualty of the New Year clean out of out of date herbs and spices so I replaced it with some dried wild oregano.


Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp nutmeg, grated
1 tbsp dried oregano
250g (9oz) baby spinach
bunch parsley (whole, leaves and stalks)
large bunch coriander (whole, leaves and stalks)
1200ml vegetable stock
200g (7oz) Greek yoghurt (or 2 small individual tubs)
bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped
bunch fresh mint leaves, chopped
100g feta
Salt and black pepper
Pinch of chilli flakes
Lemon oil to drizzle


Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Add just a pinch of salt and fry until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the turmeric and nutmeg and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the dried oregano, spinach, the whole parsley and the whole coriander leaves and stalks and all. Add the stock and bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or so. Season well with salt and pepper. Blitz the soup with a liquidiser or stick blender until you have a smooth bright green gloop!

At this point you I put half aside to go in to the freezer for another rainy day.
To serve, reheat the soup just to boiling point. Pour the yoghurt into a bowl and whisk in a ladle of hot soup, don't stop whisking until all combined. Repeat with a couple more ladles and then tip the mixture back into the soup and whisk it all together to combine. Stir through the chopped herbs and crumble in the feta, keeping a little feta and a few herbs to decorate. Have a taste and if need be add a little more salt and pepper.

Pour into bowls, sprinkle over a little shower of the herbs, feta and chilli flakes. Finish with a drizzle of lemon olive oil.

This soup was quite remarkable, a vibrant bright green with tinge of yellow from the turmeric, it looked as though it was almost alive with all the good stuff in it.  The soup warming the lemon olive oil giving off a fragrant lemony aroma. The yoghurt makes it feel rich and luxuriant, while the coriander gives that wonderful aromatic flavour and a sweet hit from the fresh mint lightens it.  Cutting through all the verdant iron like flavour of the spinach is the crumbled feta, soft and salty, and not to forget the slightly earthy note from the turmeric.   And that's not all, a little heat from the chilli flakes and a light fresh lemon hit from the olive oil just rounds it all off perfectly.

Served with homemade oatmeal bread it was a perfect little lunch.  An unbelievable explosion of bright flavours that cannot fail to make you feel good, come rain or shine.



  1. Oh, that Ottolenghi, I love him so. This soup sounds so gorgeous, all those green herbs are perfect for a humid day :)

  2. This must be so flavoursome!I love Ottolenghi!

  3. Ottolenghi? I'm sure I caught that while visiting Naples - quite nasty too, as I recollect. Some of this tasty soup might have helped me on my path to recovery: this looks fresh, flavoursome & undeniably healthy. I've never read his column in the Guardian, so maybe I should take a look.

  4. Thanks for the comments folks :)

    @Nigel LOL & yes you should check it out, the most amazing veggie recipes...he just takes veg so interesting!

  5. Thanks for your kind comments on my gruesome haggis experiment, Mairi. This recipe looks delicious and your pictures are just gorgeous. I've added you to my blogroll and look forward to reading more.
    Mary www.ecoexplorer.co.uk

  6. Like the sound of herb soup. We are still in the grips of a cold Scottish winter so it have to wait for a wee while. Not much growing in our garden !!

  7. @Mum & Dad - thanks for the comments! And yes you must give this soup a go...amazing!

  8. I love different types of soups, especially unique and unusual ones; can't wait to try this one. I'm really impressed with all your recipes. Very glad I stumbled into your blog. Keep them coming!


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