In March, that period at the end of winter when you are craving anything green and think you are going to scream if you look at another root vegetable, I usually make a vat of my version of Ash Reshteh, a Persian soup of greens, herbs, pulses and thick noodles, topped with fried onions and an Iranian dairy product called Kashk (rather like a fermented Greek Yogurt), and drizzled with mint oil. My neighbor in Beverly Hills made it for me the Spring that we lived there, and it was delicious.
I didn't make it this year, but suddenly craved it today because, while the calendar says Spring and the garden is trying to agree, it is 47 degrees here and I am freezing so a restorative soup sounded like a great idea. Still, I didn't have time (or feel like) making the lengthy, from scratch version with dried lime, dried beans and bulgur wheat that I usually do, so came up with this lighter, faster, equally delicious version instead. It helped that I had a container of cooked scarlet runner beans in the fridge, that I planned on using for some sort of chili dish tomorrow, but feel free to use your favorite can of beans - pinto or chickpea being my recommendation.
This makes two generous meal-sized portions of Spring Green Soup, so have half for lunch or dinner and freeze the rest for a day when you do not feel like cooking.
1 can pinto beans or chickpeas, drained or rinsed
3 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 cups chopped herbs, roughly chopped ( I used a mix of arugula, Italian parsley, mint, dill and coriander)
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1/2 jalapeno or other hot pepper, finely chopped (check to adjust spiciness to your taste before adding)
1/4 red onion, peeled and sliced into thin half moons
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsps of olive oil
2 tsps of Feta cheese, crumbled
1 Tbsp plain full-fat Greek yogurt
1/8 tsp nipitella or generous pinch of dried mint
Salt to taste
Add half of the oil to a soup pan along with the turmeric, some salt, the hot pepper and the red onion. Cook over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until the onions have started to soften, about 2 minutes.
Add 4 cups of water to the pan and stir well to combine the turmeric with the water.
Add the beans, chopped spinach and herbs along with the shredded cabbage to the pan. Lower the heat, stir, cover and cook for 15 minutes, uninterrupted.
While the vegetables are cooking, whisk the Feta and yogurt together in a small bowl to make as smooth a paste as possible. Set aside until needed. This will thicken slightly as it sits.
Heat the remaining oil in a small pan. As soon as it shimmers, add the nipitella or dried mint and stir. The oil will foam up practically immediately. Turn off the heat as soon as it does and set the pan aside.
Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Check for seasoning, add more salt if needed.
Ladle half the soup into your soup bowl. Top with half of the Feta-yogurt mixture and a drizzle of the mint oil. Stir to melt the Feta-yogurt paste into the soup before eating.