Lean, Mean and Green Broccoli Spinach Soup

Sometimes a bowl of warm, green soup is just what the doctor ordered. This beautiful soup is a lean, mean and green antioxidant machine...and it makes me happy!

It was the end of a very long, and emotionally exhausting week, and the thought of just staying home and making dinner was a pleasure. But what to make?

I didn’t feel like going to the store. It was getting cold outside. I knew my supplies were getting low, just some bits of things here and there. Here’s how the dialog goes in my head at these moments. Sound familiar?

“Got some of that great chicken stock left in the freezer, so some soup, perhaps? What’s left from the CSA and other dishes this week…hmmm, 2 smallish heads of broccoli. Okay, that would only make a very thin broccoli soup…oh, got cheddar, but it would take a lot of cheese and I want this to be healthy. Let’s see….carrots, celery, onion, thyme, a lemon…sounds good so far…a few cloves of garlic…oh, and a box of baby spinach…and some unopened buttermilk…interesting. Let’s see what I can stir up with this.” So of course I then run to the internet, find a soup recipe that sounds inspiring and go for it, with some add-ins and embellishments.

The result? A Lean, Mean and Green Soup. It was delightful… fresh and healthy, but still very rich tasting and flavorful with all of the veggies shining through. And best of all, comforting. And the color…oh my, St. Patrick’s Day, here we come! I wish I’d made a double batch, but I’ll keep that in mind for next time.

The recipe below was adapted from Michael Chiarello’s Very Green Broccoli Soup, and you can find his original recipe by clicking right here. We still got our cheese fix by grating a little extra sharp cheddar and making cheese toast under the broiler to go along with. Yum!

Lean, Mean and Green Broccoli Spinach Soup
Makes 4-6 servings

3/4 lb. fresh broccoli
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
2 carrots, peeled and diced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme leaves
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade or low sodium
5 oz. baby spinach
2 teaspoons lemon zest, or the zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk, divided

Cut all the broccoli florets from the stems and stalk and set aside. Peel the tough outer skin of the stalk with a vegetable peeler and trim off the fibrous ends. Cut the stems lengthwise into about 1/2 inch slices, then cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a small stock pot over medium heat and add the garlic. Saute until the garlic begins to lightly brown, then add the onion, celery and carrot. Add a pinch of salt and some pepper, and cook the vegetables until tender, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme leaves and stir, then add the broccoli stems, the stock and a bit more salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 3 minutes. Add the broccoli florets, and half of the buttermilk, and bring back to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the broccoli florets and the stems are nice and tender, but not mealy.

Remove the pot from the heat and puree, using a stick blender and adding half the spinach, half the zest and half the nutmeg in two batches, pureeing in between. When the soup is smooth, return it to low heat, add the remaining buttermilk, stir and bring it just to a gentle simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with a small dollop of yogurt and a little fresh thyme if desired.

March is #greenslove month! Check out the blog hop and join in the fun by following this link back to Linda at Savoring Every Bite, to see more great recipes featuring greens and to follow on twitter!

68 thoughts on “Lean, Mean and Green Broccoli Spinach Soup

  1. Betsy, your very bright post and new masthead have cheered me up on this rather bland Monday. Hopefully the soup is more lean than mean…..but hey I’m sure this soup can’t hurt me? 🙂 I could really see the ponytails liking this soup, so I’m going to tuck it away for St. Patrick’s day. Great idea!


  2. We often make a broccoli and stilton soup over the winter as green vegetables are a real favourite in our house. This soup sounds like a delicious, lighter, fresher version for the spring or summer. I’m looking forward to giving ithis great recipe a try


    • Thank you, Big Hungry Gnomes….love your name! Broccoli and stilton sounds wonderful and broccoli and cheese was my first thought, but I didn’t have as much broccoli as I felt I needed to make a broccoli-centric soup and stand up to the cheese. I think you’ll like this version if you try it, and indeed it is a spring-y soup!


  3. That’s a whole lotta green, Betsy! There’s so much to love about this soup that the fact that it’s so good for you is almost lost. Isn’t it great when a rummage through the fridge results in something as delicious as this soup? Well done!


    • It is a lot of green…I just decided to go with that in shooting it and added more! Thanks for the compliments, John, and you’re so right in that the taste of the soup stands alone, so you forget about the good for you part, really. And I agree, I love rummaging and coming up with something that I love to make, eat and that uses up my ingredients rather than them going to the compost. It’s so satisfying and a win-win!


  4. Hi, Betsy. I like your new masthead as well. Hope things are going more smoothly at your house. Soup looks very healthy–I love broccoli. Not much on spinach, but am trying to do better. Take care–


    • Hey Carol! Thank you, I’m so glad you like the masthead…I needed a fresh look. We’re hanging in, just riding the trough to get to the next wave! If it helps any, I don’t think the spinach flavor is very pronounced in this, even though I upped it a lot from the original recipe. You could definitely do more broccoli and just a bit of spinach, use cream instead of buttermilk…all those things Michael did and I know it would be good. I think there’s some room for flexibility in this soup!


  5. I love how you came up with this delicious soup!! Michael is one of my favorites and I got excited when I saw his recipe gave you a good base to work from!! The color is stunning too! I’m glad you shared in the bloghop! Thanks for the shout out! I actually believe I have all the ingredients to make this too!!


    • Hi Linda, so glad you like the soup…I like Michael a lot, too! You’re most welcome for the shout out and I hope I did the blog hop thing correctly. Greens are some of my favorite ingredients so it was good timing. 🙂


    • Hi Eva…the last time I saw Michael Chiarello on TV he was on the Next Iron Chef series. I’m not a fan of those reality type shows, but got sucked in because some of my favorite older chefs were competing. I don’t know if he has a show on here, either, at the moment. Glad you like the soup…it did turn out a great color I thought, as well as tasty.


    • Hi Charlie Louie, thank you. I wish I could do that more often…use up what’s in my fridge. Seems like I have all these ideas when I go to the store, then life gets in the way and next thing I know I have all these separate parts. Most times I can go get one thing at the store to add and make something. What I really need to do is challenge myself to use up everything I have that’s lying around….but it probably wouldn’t make for great posting! 😉


  6. So brilliantly green it just has to be a little healthy. I know exactly how you feel sometimes going to the store is such a hassle but as you have found out doing with what you had around the house helped you invent something really lovely. I want to give it a try but I would still have to make a run to the store first… Take care, BAM


    • Thank you, Bam. More often than not, I have to go to the store to get one ingredient, even when I’m trying to use stuff up. Now when I go to the store or when we get a CSA box, I try to think in terms of how to make dishes from what I have…sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t! 😉


  7. Well, isn’t this just perfect for St. Patrick’s Day? I love the rich color and the swirl of white is almost too perfect to be true:) Looks like a professional did your food styling today:) AND I love your new Header!!


    • Smidge, that is such a nice compliment, thank you so much! For sure, this soup would make a pretty awesome St. Paddy’s day dish with the color. And I’m so happy you like the new header…it was way past time to change it! 🙂


  8. I so could have done with a bowl of this last week at my conferences tapas is great but after 4 days of mostly carbs and meat, I was craving a veg transfusion! This would have been perfect, and I love the colour!


  9. I love soup – I can’t wait for spring to get underway proper here. They have big baskets of greens in the markets, though you need to make sure you’re there early else they sell out!

    Looking forward to making things like this – it looks yummy, I really like the earthy flavour of spinach in soups!


    • I’m with you, Charles…I love spinach in soup and it’s a great addition and filler for so many things, not to mention how much I like it raw in a salad. This would make a nice spring soup, even though for our season it was made with “winter” vegetables. I wonder how it would be with asparagus instead of broccoli…hmmmm? Thanks for your compliments, Charles and have a great day!


    • Thank you, choc chip uru! It was delicious and healthy, but now I’m feeling the pull of something sweet to undo myself…hmmm, those brown butter mixed m&m chewy cookies might do the trick! I’ll go and check them out! 🙂


  10. Flavourefull green soup full of health benefits! I like your recipe, u have added lemon zest which will give it all a nice dimension to the soup. usualy I avoid spinach and broccoli, I know I know its healthy food but I dont like the plain weird taste. BUT I can imagine myself enjoying the flavoures u have added to this dish. thanks for sharing!


  11. Pingback: Soups, Stews, Chilis and Chowders: Part One, The Puréed. | bits and breadcrumbs

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