I don’t know about you, but this time of year for me just screams for soup. All kinds. Veggie, chicken, beef… Asian, Irish, or Latin. I’m not picky. I just want a big bowl of something hot and flavorful.
This soup definitely fits the bill, in my opinion. It’s not your standard soup, though. I learned how to make it last quarter in school when we were studying the cuisine of China. It’s called Spinach Velvet Soup, and when made correctly, it really lives up to its name. If you like egg drop soup, and you like spinach, this will be right up your alley. It has ginger, which to me always says “restorative,” since it’s good for all sorts of things, from nausea to inflammation, and you can certainly add more ginger than the recipe calls for if you really want to give it a boost. You could also add diced Asian chilies as a garnish if you wanted to amp up the cold and inflammation fighting power of this soup.
Just a note… this soup comes together really fast, so I recommend having all your prep done and liquids measured out ahead of time so you don’t get stuck on a step (especially the last few) and risk having the soup get too thick.
Knife and cutting board
Large measuring cup plus a 1/4 cup measuring cup
Small mixing bowl
Grater or ginger board
Small pot for blanching the spinach
at least a 3 quart pot for cooking the soup
Cloth kitchen towel for squeezing the water out of the spinach
3 cups fresh spinach leaves, loosely packed
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 egg whites
2 quarts plus 1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 large knob of fresh ginger from which you will extract 1 tablespoon ginger juice (this can be retrieved by grating the ginger and then squeezing it in a coffee filter to retain the juice)
2 tablespoons diced ham, 1/4″ dice (optional if you want to make this soup vegetarian)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and (white, if you have it) pepper, to taste
Remove the stems from the spinach (or just use baby spinach, because those stems are tender enough to keep), rinse and drain. Heat 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the sugar and the spinach, stirring until the water comes back up to a boil. Immediately drain the spinach and run cold water over it to stop the cooking.
Squeeze the spinach through the kitchen towel to get out as much of the liquid as you can. Finely julienne the spinach. Do not use a blender.
Beat the egg whites with 1 tablespoon water until smooth but not foamy.
Mix the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup of the stock.
Heat the rest of the stock over high heat until it boils, then reduce the heat to medium. Add half the ham (if you’re using it) and the ginger juice and cook it for about 4 minutes. Turn the heat back up to high and add the spinach, stirring until the stock comes back up to a boil.
Season the soup to taste, then add the cornstarch/stock mixture and stir until the soup is creamy and slightly thickened.
Take the pot off the heat and slowly swirl in your egg whites. DO NOT STIR for about 30 seconds to allow the whites to set, then stir gently to mix them into the soup. Add the sesame and vegetable oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
To serve, garnish with the remaining ham if you like, or some diced chilies or whatever you think looks pretty on top.
This soup doesn’t really freeze well, so just make enough to serve right away. The good news is that there’s not a ton of prep, and, as I mentioned, it comes together really fast so making it isn’t such a pain that doing it to order is a big deal.