Anna Thomas' Green Soup

October 14, 2014
15 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

This is an excellent recipe, but also a template. You could use any greens, and any herbs. Instead of the potato, Thomas has bolstered the broth with arborio rice, yams, sautéed mushrooms, or squash. The caramelized onions are key for filling out the flavor of the soup, but there's no reason you couldn't use shallots or leeks instead. It's good for dinner parties, for brown bag lunches, and for dinners alone with a fridge of greens you don't know what to do with. Thomas has also used the soup to comfort very sick friends, who said it restored their appetite and brought them back to life a bit. Recipe adapted from Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
  • 1 bunch chard or spinach
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 4 to 5 green onions, sliced, white and green parts
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 splash Marsala or dry sherry (optional)
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
  1. Wash the greens thoroughly, trim off their stems, and slice the leaves. Combine the chard or spinach, kale, green onions, and cilantro in a large soup pot with 3 cups water and a teaspoon of salt. Peel the potato, or just scrub it well if you prefer, cut it into small pieces, and add it to the pot. Bring the water a boil, turn down the flame to low, cover the pot, and let the soup simmer for about half an hour.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the onion, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet, and cook the onion with a small sprinkle of salt over medium flame until it is golden brown and soft. This will take up to half an hour. Don't hurry; give it a stir once in a while, and let the slow cooking develop the onion's sweetness. If you like, you can deglaze the pan at the end with a bit of Marsala or sherry -- not required, but a nice touch.
  3. Add the caramelized onion to the soup. Put the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in the pan and stir the chopped garlic in it for just a couple of minutes, until it sizzles and smells great. Add the garlic to the pot and simmer the soup for 10 minutes more.
  4. Add enough of the broth to make the soup a soup -- it should pour easily from the ladle and puree it in the blender, in batches, or use an immersion blender. Don't overprocess, potatoes can turn gummy it you work them too much.
  5. Return the soup to the pot, bring it back to a simmer, and taste. Add a pitch more salt if needed, grind in a little black pepper, and add a pinch of cayenne and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Stir well and taste again. Now use your taste buds -- correct the seasoning to your taste with a drop more lemon juice or another pinch of salt, and then serve big steaming bowls of green soup.
  6. Garnish with a thin drizzle of fruity olive oil.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Reed Keyes
    Reed Keyes
  • Lauren Kelley
    Lauren Kelley
  • Roy Tompkins
    Roy Tompkins
  • Susan Weintrob
    Susan Weintrob
  • carlito
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

56 Reviews

Pdxkate May 15, 2023
My family has been making this recipe for many years, out of Anna Thomas’ book Love Soup. I always feel like a superhero after eating this bowl full of greens. It’s more delicious than it has a right to be from so few ingredients. The key tip I have is to take the time to caramelize the onions to a rich golden brown—the flavor won’t be as good without that. I know this from experience!
Eva_in_Carrboro April 7, 2020
What can I say-- this soup is an important thread interwoven into my life. I read Anna Thomas´ recipe in the newspaper back in May of 2003 or 2004 and used my bountiful CSA box that my husband said was a commemoration of ¨brassica awareness month" and so I used turnips and turnip greens as well as chard, potatoes, onions and cream. It was great and made me feel good too. I fed my 6 month old baby the soup, and he loved it! Then I fed him the soup again, and again. And he stopped eating for a day. Anyway, 15 years later the soup was right there at the top of my brain when I had lots of turnips to use up. It turned out great, except I used my immersion blender and the haters in my family thought it was stringy. I´ve had that complaint before. Using a blender or Cuisinart makes everyone happy when your greens are less than tender. I'm sure chard and or spinach would not need that special extra processing though, they are softer than tough turnip greens. Thanks Anna Thomas!! What a special, delicious, flexible, healthy-ish, easy and time-tested recipe.
Reed K. April 1, 2019
I love this soup! However, I highly recommend using homemade vegetable stock. I made a batch yesterday and am looking forward to eating it all week! I also added sherry vinegar (about 1 tbs) and more lemon.
Sidney March 8, 2018
I've found upping the acid a bit with this soup -- either the juice from a whole lemon or white wine vinegar -- really delightful. Also works nicely with cauliflower instead of potatoes if you cannot eat them. Experimented with adding coconut milk and found it a nice addition. I might try the coconut milk version with some added cumin or garam masala sometime soon. Lovely recipe!
Jen November 12, 2017
This is the perfect feel-better soup! I always try to have some individual portions stashed in my freezer. I agree that when I first made this according to the recipe, it was tasty but left something to be desired. A few ideas: I use both parsley and cilantro, and some arugula if I have it. In place of the cayenne, I add a few chopped fresno or serrano peppers to the last 10 min of cooking the caramelized onion. I also sautee grated ginger with the garlic for even more kick.
Karen O. July 9, 2017
Delicious recipe! I used a large bag of prewashed Super Greens/chopped, 1/2 bundle flat leaf parsley/chopped, a bundle of green onions, one peeled sweet potato (instead of potato), and a head of green cauliflower. After I caramelized a large white onion using coconut oil, I added in sliced mushrooms until they were caramelized too, and some whole roasted garlic cloves I'd made for another recipe. It did need more water/chicken stock during blending and a bit more lemon juice for brightness. I love the flexibility of this recipe. It seems I always have greens on hand and it's a nice way to change them up! Thanks for the recipe.
Lauren K. November 29, 2016
Officially obsessed with this soup and will be making it again constantly.

A few tips: save your chard stems for https://food52.com/recipes/36752-tara-duggan-s-chard-stalk-hummus, and if you save your kale stems, you can saute them until they're tender (with a little garlic) and use them as a garnish for this or any other dish.
Ute August 20, 2016
Yum! Turned out great.
I added some fried bacon to the soup, which was a perfect complement.
Also added the sherry and vinegar glaze.
I read the comments on it being a little bland and added savory. It added a wonderful herbal flavor to the soup.
Thank you for the recipe. Will definitely make it again!
Roy T. March 31, 2016
I made this last year according the recipe and while it was good, it wasn't especially memorable. Yesterday I brought home a big bag of chopped kale from Costco that I had second thoughts about even as it was still in my cart. It was really starting to bum me out once I got it home and stuffed it in my fridge. Then I remembered this soup. Only I couldn't remember where the recipe was. I was furiously searching the NY Times to no avail. When I finally found it I thought it would be the perfect use for that dreaded bag of stemmy Costco kale. This time around I doubled the onion and garlic, used some asian cooking sherry and a touch of red wine vinegar to deglaze, used up some homemade dashi stock that was languishing in my freezer and amped up the spices with cayenne as well as aleppo pepper and the zest from 1 lemon. The author is right to say to leave it a little coarse and not puree too thoroughly. That way you have something to sink your teeth into. I served it with a squeeze of lemon and a dollop of Greek yogurt and was completely satisfied.
Nicole January 18, 2016
This is my new favorite soup. I made it to the exact specifications and it was delicious. Healthy comfort food. I tried it before adding the lemon and liked it so much that I ate two bowls straight away. Adding the lemon gave it a nice pep, but it wasn’t totally necessary.
Nicole January 18, 2016
p.s. I made it with the spinach rather than the chard. I imagine that made it a bit sweeter
rebecca November 11, 2015
Just made using a small head of broccoli and about half a large bunch of lacinato kale and it was stellar. added some harissa at the end swirled in olive oil too.
Jenny September 19, 2015
I really want to like this recipe, but I've made it twice and am sad to say I found it a bit meh both times. This time I used kale and leftover greens from turnips and kohlrabi, plus a big leek instead of the scallions. Perhaps I boiled the greens too long? There are so many nice ingredients, but I found the favors (and color) a bit muddy.
name October 22, 2015
I had a similar experience. Loved the ingredients but meh.
Pamela_in_Tokyo February 19, 2016
I can see what you mean. But,... have you tried adding more lemon juice, red pepper or seasoning?? Perhaps tempering it in the Indian style by adding spices to oil and cooking that and then putting that on the soup at the last minute might make it more enjoyable. Personally, I love soups like this, but spicing them up sounds good too. I even love way, way over cooked greens like my old aunt used to make for us on the farm.
Susan W. April 25, 2015
I made this soup for family at our Saturday lunch and it was loved by all! I used kale from our garden and a home made vegetable broth. It's a keeper! "Template" recipes are the best idea.
Devvon H. April 14, 2015
Loved this soup! I used chicken broth and topped it with shaved parmesan - it was excellent. Shared it with a co-worker who swears its delicious cold.
carlito February 13, 2015
I did not want to make this soup. Boiled kale? BOILED CHARD? I shudder. But genius recipes has never let me down and this soup is no exception. Delicious and tastes much more complex than the recipe would suggest.
Mirjam L. February 3, 2015
Wow, what an incredibly tasty soup this is!! I just made it for tonight, and can't wait to be honest! I used broccoli and spinach, since I can't find any kale here on the island (Ibiza). But I think it's an award winning combo! :-)
Rashda K. January 26, 2015
Tried this and loved it! I added a cup of frozen peas to mine to add some sweetness. Thank you for this brilliant soup.
Lisa J. January 22, 2015
i made this last night and it is a keeper for sure. I used collards and kale and lots of lemon juice. The fruity olive oil is a must!! I will change it up next time a bit. Thinking of adding little squares of fried tofu or topping it with crispy wild mushrooms that I have foraged.
Morgan January 21, 2015
This was a great recipe! They're right that it can be used as a template, because I just used the veggies I had on hand and it turned out fabulously. I used around 4 turnips instead of the potato, and 1 bunch each of Swiss chard and collard greens. Also added a hot pepper. Used chicken broth since I didn't have veggie. Will make this over and over again!
Liz January 18, 2015
Loved this recipe! I made it with sweet potato instead of rice and used rainbow chard, dinosaur kale and spinach. Adding lemon is essential! I didn't have cayenne and used green tobasco sauce instead which was delicious. Served it sprinkeld with homemade vegan parmesan cheese (made from cashews).The color wasn't as green as pictured, but probably due to the fact that I used a yam.