Creamy Broccoli and Kale Soup Beats the Winter Blues with Green Goodness

By Tom Liddy on March 19, 2013 7:54am 

NEW YORK CITY — Beat those winter blues with a healthy dose of green.

Late winter really is the doldrums in New York, with bitter cold, snow, most of the day veiled in darkness and the promise of spring still far out on the horizon.

The long months can even lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder, which can manifest itself in feelings of hopelessness, anxiety and loss of appetite, among other symptoms.

While DNAinfo columnist Morris Cohen gives a great rundown on how to battle the blues with exercise, light boxes and other techniques, he also recommends getting your vitamins.

This soup, a twist on the classic cream of broccoli, combines the superfood power of broccoli and kale with the bitter bite of watercress to give you a shot of nutrition when you need it most.

Broccoli, which is available year-round, but tastes best when it is harvested late in the year, is a nutrition-packed cruciferous vegetable, so-called because of the cross shape of its four-petal flowers.

Like other cruciferous vegetables, it is jammed with Vitamin C, Vitamin K and beta carotene, powerful antioxidants that have a number of proven health benefits and are being studied in the fight against cancer.

It also has folate, a B vitamin that is beneficial to the heart and blood, and minerals such as potassium and manganese, as well as a healthy dose of fiber.

Kale, which is in the same family, has more than 200 percent of the daily allowance of Vitamin A and more than 100 percent of Vitamin C. It also has phytonutrients that promote eye health, including lutein.

This simple and flavorful soup benefits from a quick cooking process that preserves as much of the vitamin content as possible and is blended with the stock (low-sodium vegetable or chicken) for a velvety finish.

The soup gets added bite from watercress that is thrown in right before blending.

Finish it off with a swirl of light cream and some croutons for a tasty crunch.

INGREDIENTS:

2 heads of broccoli, florets cut off and the rest of the stalk thinly sliced (discard the woodiest section)

1 bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves rough chopped

1 bunch of watercress, rough chopped

1 medium onion, diced

4 cups low-sodium stock (vegetable or chicken)

Salt and Pepper

1 1/2 tsp. Olive oil

Light cream (optional)

Croutons (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. When it's hot, add 1 tsp. of the olive oil.

2. Add the onion and sautee until it has softened, about 3 minutes, but make sure that it doesn't brown.

3. Add the broccoli beginning with the chopped stalks. When the stalks are bright green, add the florets and cook for a minute or two.

4. Add the kale, season with salt and pepper and allow to wilt slightly.

5. Then add the stock to cover the vegetables (add some water if there is not enough liquid). Bring to a boil.

6. Reduce to a simmer and then cook about 4 more minutes, or until a sharp knife can just pass through the broccoli.

7. At the very end of the cooking process, add the watercress and allow to wilt.

8. Allow the mixture to cool slightly and ladle into a blender. Blitz until smooth, working in batches and being careful not to add too much to the blender (WARNING: Be sure to vent the blender by tilting the center cap to the side and holding the top down with a towel to protect your hand).

9. At this point, you can strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer (or a chinois if you have one), but I like to keep the texture and the fiber. Return to the pot to keep warm.

10. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

11. Add a swirl of cream and olive oil and croutons if you want and dig in.

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