Thanks to my cold frame, I’ve already got a bumper crop of spring greens. The mizuna is going wild in our recent warm and sunny weather, so it was time to trim it out and make something with it. Mizuna is a Japanese green, very delicate with a peppery bite. It’s milder than arugula and at this phase, so tender. It helps that it grows in a wind- and rain-free paradise in that cold frame.
Lunchtime set in and we needed something to eat. I spend a lot of time on dinner but I can’t stand cooking a lunch that takes longer to make than to eat. Luckily, this one was pretty fast and easy. I started by picking four bunches of mizuna and trimming off the leaf tips (the rest goes back to the compost pile; ashes to ashes, the last shall be first, etc)
I made a quick vegetable stock by using a stock base I made from this Cook’s Illustrated recipe. I often have vegetarian friends over (or just want a meat-free stock) so this is incredibly convenient to have on hand. Once it was boiling, I added the beans and simmered for five minutes. Then it was off to the blender:
I tasted to see that if it needed salt (didn’t) and then passed it through a sieve. This is really important – it refines the texture of the soup and removes any unblended bean skins or bits. Much smoother. Then it got ladled over the mizuna in bowls. The heat from the soup wilted the greens but did not overcook them.
And topped with some pecorino, olive oil and pepper. A little toasted bread made it into a nice lunch.
Yeah, topping with cheese and olive oil is a little cheaty – anything will taste good that way! I wanted a little fat in the meal to give it staying power, though. The assertive flavors go a long way to livening up the creamy texture and natural pepper of the greens.
Cool things about this recipe: it really does come together fast if you use canned beans. It’s vegetarian and if you omit the cheese, it’s vegan. It is so versatile, too – any spring greens taste nice in it. You should try this with arugula, spinach, lettuce (yes, little lettuce leaves), radish greens, corn salad or anything foraged coming up. Baby kale would work, though I might want to simmer that for a minute in the blended soup before serving.
White bean and spring green soup
Serves two, approx 20 minutes
2c good vegetable stock
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
2c loosely packed tender greens, washed if they need it
grated cheese, olive oil and toast for serving (optional)
If you find the puree is a little too thick, thin it down. In fact, this soup ended up being a bit watery because I used too much stock (three cups). I’ll cut down next time, knowing I can always add more.
This recipe also benefits from about a quarter teaspoon of white wine vinegar or lemon juice added right at the end – like all soups do.