Spinach and Walnut Bisque with Parmesan Chili Croutons

March  7, 2010
2 Ratings
  • Serves 6 as a starter
Author Notes

This recipe, believe it or not, came from our dining hall in college. No joke. Admittedly the food at Dartmouth was far above average, but specifically the food at Collis Hall was what I wound up living on for breakfast and lunch during my freshman year. Collis was about 50 feet from my dorm room, and while small, had an excellent selection of food. An omelet station, smoothies for the morning, a great sandwich and wrap area, and an ever-changing array of soups to go along with the sandwiches, and the requisite coffee for early morning classes ("early morning" being "10 a.m."). Back then I was still in the "fledgling chef" phase, but as soon as I tasted this soup, I knew that it was one that would be added to my quiver. The nice thing about this particular dining hall was that since it prided itself in "health" and "nutrition", the ingredients for each soup were listed on a card in front of the soup station. Thus I was able to take quick crib notes on the ingredients of the soup, and from there I experimented to come up with the proper proportions. Along the way I added a freshly toasted crouton to the dish, and now I can make it in my sleep. I figured that there was no better way to showcase spinach as an ingredient than in this unique, creamy bisque that takes no time at all to make. Spinach and walnuts? Who would have thought the would work out so well? Back in the day I used to cut corners and make it with canned spinach (for shame!) but now I use fresh. Also because everyone would laugh at me if I posted a recipe with canned spinach, obviously. —lechef

What You'll Need
  • Spinach Walnut Bisque
  • 2 10-oz bags fresh spinach
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup whole milk (or cream, if you want a richer bisque)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (preferably Hot Hungarian)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Parmesan Chili Crouton
  • 1 French Baguette, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. Add 3 cups of water and the two bags of spinach to a pot large enough to hold them (this will eventually be your soup pot). Bring to a boil and steam the spinach for 5-6 minutes until wilted. You should wind up with about 3 cups of spinach and liquid. Discard excess liquid if you have more than that combined.
  2. In a food processor or spice grinder, finely chop about 1/2 cup walnuts until they are about the size of cous cous. Or, very finely chopped. You will need 1/4 cup of finely chopped walnuts.
  3. Pour the spinach and liquid into a blender. Add the chicken stock, milk, butter, parmesan, cream cheese, walnuts, and paprika. Blend until smooth.
  4. Return the bisque to the soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add salt and pepper and adjust to taste.
  5. While your soup is simmering (and you can let it simmer for a while on the stove while you are getting the rest of your dinner together) spread the baguette cubes on a baking sheet and heat your oven to 375.
  6. Drizzle olive oil over the croutons, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
  7. In a separate bowl, mix the parmesan and chili powder with a fork until combined. Toss the oiled croutons with the cheese mixture to coat.
  8. Place the croutons into the 375 degree oven and toast for approximately 15 minutes, checking and shuffling the croutons every 5 minutes. You want a golden brown crouton with little bubbly bits of cheese on it.
  9. Dish out the soup, garnish with 3-4 croutons, and serve. Have a dish of extra croutons on the'll want them!
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5 Reviews

Biskh28 November 7, 2021
How can I make dairy free?
dymnyno March 12, 2010
This sounds delicious...will try it soon...I love everything spinach! ...My college boarding house was next door to a Dunkin Donuts! We would sneek over in our bathrobes for coffee and ...
Loves F. March 11, 2010
This sounds delicious! At the University of Washington we had a pretty great, albiet NOT healthy dining hall in my dorm building.... which had a local 'gourmet' pizza chain, salad and sandwich bar, homestyle station, Asian fusion station, and Mexican station... we could have definitely used a healthy spinach soup to combat the ol' freshman fifteen!
testkitchenette March 9, 2010
Oh, you are a lucky one to have delicious dining hall food. I do believe now that the Rollins College dining hall was trying to poison all of its students when I went there. Ironically, the dining hall burnt down within the first month of school starting. The administration would not refund our money for our meal plans so the only thing open was the snack bar which served frozen yogurt and cereal. After about 3 days of that I started secretly cooking in my room.
In any case, lovely recipe and it photographs beautifully!
Hadyourtea? March 8, 2010
This sounds amazing, and I love flavoured croutons. Looking forward to trying it.