Spinach and Thyme Soup

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Spinach is full of iron and its rich iodine flavour stands up well in a simple soup. (You’ll think that this soup has a lot more ingredients in it when you taste it.) We also show you how to adapt the recipe so it is vegetarian and vegan.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil or a knob of butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
400g spinach leaves, washed and roughly chopped
600ml vegetable, lamb or chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 sprigs of thyme, leaves only (reserve some fronds of thyme for a garnish)
4 tablespoons of buttermilk or sour cream
Sour cream to serve

Instructions

1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pan. Add the garlic and fry over medium heat for 30 seconds.

2. In another large saucepan wilt the spinach with half the stock. Rotate the spinach leaves from the top to the bottom of the saucepan with a tongs or wooden spoon as the bottom leaves collapse. Add the spinach and its liquid to the garlic with the rest of the stock, a little ground black pepper and the thyme leaves. Cook at a light simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Add the buttermilk or sour cream, blitz with a stick or stand blender or in a food processor or Thermomix and add a little salt if it needs it, adding water to loosen it to your taste. Reheat in a clean saucepan or keep in the fridge until you need it. Garnish each bowl of soup with thyme leaves and pass round some sour cream to stir into the soup.

Why do you not add salt earlier in the cooking?
Leave the salt until the end of cooking – if you are using stock it will be salty and you may not need any more. Vegetable soups usually need a lot of seasoning but go carefully. You can always add more.

Why do you not add more liquid to start with?
When you are making soup use less liquid to start with, then add more when you are reheating it to serve and after you have liquidised or blended it. That way you can control the finished soup to your liking (if one person likes thick soup give them a bowl, then add more liquid for the next person who likes a thinner soup). The thicker soup also takes less room in the freezer – just top it up with water when you reheat it.

Can you freeze Spinach Soup?
Yes you can but you need to freeze it before you add the buttermilk or sour cream (or any dairy equivalent). This soup freezes well and lasts up to a month in the fridge without losing flavour or texture. Cool it first, ladle into freezer bags, seal and press gently so you get a flat package (it saves space in the freezer). Why not make double the recipe? While you are at it wilt double the quantity of spinach and pop it in a sealed container in the fridge – reheat the next day as a side dish.

How to make this a Vegetarian or Vegan Soup
This recipe is vegetarian if you use vegetable stock and it’s a vegan soup if you use vegetable stock and omit the sour cream or buttermilk.

Make this soup when you are making an Irish Stew – just reserve some of the liquid from the stew after you have cooked the lamb and use it as part of the stock measurement. That way you can have spinach soup to start and stew as the main course!

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