Saag Soup with Curried Croutons and Edamame

Feeling under the weather?  Make soup.  The temperature is dropping?  Make soup.  If you’re happy and you know it; make soup.  Any excuse is a good excuse to make soup in my world.  Round it out with some home-baked croutons and edamame and you’ve got a complete meal.  And why saag (greens)?  Because mid-winter, frozen vegetables are often the most affordable form of nutrition available.  This recipe turns them into a delectable and creamy bed for the beans and bread .  Not convinced yet?  Try it.

Yield: 10 cups of soup and 8 loose cups of croutons (which will leave you lots of extra croutons for salads or snacking)

What you need for the soup:

  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2″ cube of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic (3 if the cloves are ginormous), peeled and chopped
  • 1 fresh green chili, chopped (and seeded if you want the soup milder)
  • 2-2/3 cups filtered water, divided
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 lbs frozen greens, thawed, squeezed of excess water and coarsely chopped (radish greens, turnip greens, chard, beet greens, spinach or a mixture thereof can be used; spinach is the mildest to the taste)
  • 1/4 cup cashew pieces, soaked several hours and drained (or if you make your soup in a pressure cooker, no need to soak the nuts)
  • 4 cups unsalted vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2-1/4 teaspoon salt (black lava salt is awesome here if you can get your hands on it)

What you need for the croutons:

  • 8 cups cubed stale bread, 3/4″ dice (no fresh here or the croutons will be chewy instead of crunchy)
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil, refined or virgin, as preferred
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon chaat masala (this is a hot and sour spice mix used in snack food, you can buy it ready-made from an Indian grocery or you can look up one of the DIY recipes on the web)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

What you need to serve:

  • some cooked edamame – frozen, shelled edamame, cooked according to the package instructions are just fine

What you do for the soup:

  1. Put the onion, ginger, garlic, green chili and 2/3 cup of the water into a blender or Magic Bullet type of unit and process until it’s all a smooth paste.
  2. Heat the oil in a large soup pot or in the work bowl of an Instant Pot type deal.  When the oil is hot, add the paste from the blender – careful, it will splutter because of the water.  Stir and fry the paste 3-4 minutes, until fragrant and just beginning to colour.
  3. Add the greens and stir to coat evenly with the spice paste.  Next add the garam masala, vegetable broth, cashew pieces and remaining 2 cups of water.
  4. Bring to a boil, cover and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer 30-45 minutes until well cooked.  Alternatively, if using an Instant Pot, cover and run the soup program for 13 minutes, letting the pressure drop naturally at the cycle’s conclusion.
  5. Remove the cover, add the salt and cream the soup using an immersion (stick) blender.  (The soup can also be pureed in batches using a regular blender, just be careful with the hot liquid, releasing pressure so it doesn’t splatter across the entire kitchen…)                                          DSCN0968

What you do for the croutons:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line an 11″x17″ baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat liner.
  2. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk the spices into the melted coconut oil.
  4. Pour the coconut oil and spices over the bread cubes and mix well, from the bottom, to distribute the oil and spice mix throughout the bread without breaking the cubes up too much.  This will likely take several minutes.
  5. Lay the cubes in a single layer on the lined pan and bake until crispy and golden.  Baking time will vary significantly depending on the bread being used.  Regular mass-produced bread will take 10-15 minutes, a french baguette-type loaf made with white flour will play in the 15-20 minute range while a whole-grain sourdough can take up to 35 minutes.  Check regularly, toss often, and let your nose and eyes guide you.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving or storing in an air-tight container.

What you do to serve:

  1. Ladle a couple of cups of soup into a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle a 1/2 cup of cooked edamame across the soup in a roughly diagonal mound.
  3. Artfully incorporate a 1/4 cup (or more, they’re addictive…) of croutons amongst the beans.
  4. Remember to provide a spoon so it’s more than just eye candy.

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