Several years back I made a spinach-cheese soup from A Year of Slow Cooking, which at the time was my favorite food blog (I still love Stephanie’s blog but I follow, oh, about a million food blogs now). Spinach has been one of my favorite vegetables since I was a child and my grandmother used to open a can of Popeye brand spinach for me to have for dinner when she was cooking some sort of vegetable I didn’t like (I honestly don’t remember what those were, but I ate a lot of canned spinach as a kid, sprinkled with ReaLemon juice, of course).
My love for spinach went to a whole new level in college, when my friends and I thought that TGIFriday’s was absolutely the best place in downtown Chattanooga to eat and I indulged frequently in their spinach-artichoke dip, which I guess was a fairly new trend in the mid-nineties. But come on, spinach and cheese? I haven’t eaten at TGIFriday’s in years, but it’s hard to deny that spinach and cheese are a winning combination.
It’s also been years since I have eaten canned spinach (though I do admit that when I worked at a school that supplied free lunches for the teachers I ate quite a few sides of canned spinach). Fresh spinach….well, that’s where it’s at. Except when you need a lot of spinach, like you do for this soup. The honest truth is that frozen vegetables are generally frozen at the peak of their freshness, and the amount of fresh spinach that you’d have to cook to amount to a 10-ounce package of frozen spinach is astonishing. When I need a lot of cooked spinach, I reach for the frozen package.
Anyway, let’s get back to the original spinach-cheese soup. Stephanie’s soup has lots of Velveeta in it, and I’m not going to lie, I like a good Velveeta dip from time to time (it’s a guilty indulgence). I’m not sure what the deal with this soup was, but within an hour after eating it I had broken out into a rash. I had leftovers for dinner the next night…same reaction. The strangest. thing. ever. Velveeta is the only ingredient in the soup that I don’t regularly cook with, and I’ve eaten it plenty of times without adverse effects. But there was just something about the soup. That gave me a pretty good reason to make it better for you, though. I’ve replaced the Velveeta with Gruyere (though you can use just regular old Swiss or even cheddar if you don’t want to be the freak that spends $20 on fancy cheese like I did last week at the grocery store), the onions with leeks, and upped the creaminess factor with heavy cream. My recipe is actually an adaptation of the great Julia Child’s cream of spinach soup from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I hope you like it as much as we did!
|Prep time||10 minutes|
|Cook time||30 minutes|
|Total time||40 minutes|
|From book||Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking|
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts (quartered, sliced, and washed)
- 10oz frozen spinach (thawed)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (preferably low-sodium)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4oz Gruyere cheese (grated)
- salt (to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (or to taste)
|Melt the butter in a large pot (I used a 6-quart Dutch oven) over medium heat. Make sure the leeks are fairly dry then sauté them until soft but not browned, 7-8 minutes.|
|Add the spinach to the pot with the leeks and stir to combine. Add the flour and stir to combine thoroughly. Cook for about a minute. Add the broth; bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes.|
|Remove the soup from the heat and puree the soup slightly-it doesn't need to be completely smooth but you do want to eliminate chunks of leeks-with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender.|
|Return the soup to medium heat and stir in the cream. Cook to heat through. Add the cheese, a handful at a time, stirring with each addition until completely melted. Season with salt to taste and nutmeg. Serve immediately.|