You might be surprised to think of spinach as a winter vegetable, but in the temperate climate where I live, I am able to use fresh spinach from the garden year round. I plant something called ‘beet spinach’ every year, and harvest from the same plants for a full year. From my new planting in the summer, I thin the crop by pulling out whole plants that are too close together, but rather than throwing the baby plants away, I use them whole in summer micro-leaf salads. As the remaining crop grows throughout the main season, I cut leaves that reach the size I want for whatever purpose. The plants can look pretty sorry when we have a frost or freeze, but then recover when it warms up again. I just remove and compost any yucky leaves, and carry on using new growth as before. Late in the spring or early summer, the plants decide to ‘bolt’, sending up masses of stems and leaves, and eventually flowers. When they reach this stage, I make a LOT of spinach salads and spanikopita until I can’t keep up with the plants and they set seed. Then I dig them out, compost the remnants, and plant again.
Soup is one of my favourite winter foods, and is a great way to use thicker spinach leaves, whether they are more mature leaves or simply from a sturdy variety of spinach, such as the baby leaves we were given and used here. But since spinach has a notoriously strong flavour, it’s a good idea to include additional vegetables to balance that out. Here, I’ve included leek, a winter standby, and mushroom, which adds depth subtly.
|1 pound||Spinach leaves and stems|
|Tablespoon||Fat–butter or margarine, or bacon grease or goose fat|
|2-4 cups||Light stock (for example, vegetable or chicken), hot|
- Clean and roughly chop all the vegetables.
- Heat a generous tablespoon of your chosen fat in large saucepan.
- Sweat the vegetables in the fat, covered, until they are just tender. This will take only a few minutes.
- Whiz with a hand blender until smooth.
- Add spices and stir in enough stock to reach desired consistency. I started with two cups, but eventually added nearly 2 cups more since I wanted a fairly thin soup for this lunch.
- Slowly bring to boil.
- Serve garnished with yogurt.