Instant Cream of Spinach Soup
Instant soup doesn’t have to come out of a can or box. You can make Instant Cream of Spinach Soup from scratch for a quick cup with lunch!
Several factors came together to create this soup.
I have started making protein smoothies for the parents. While I primarily want to give them more protein, I also want to increase vegetables in their diet – especially dark leafy greens, especially for my mother in law, Barbara. I frequently see suggestions to drop some baby spinach into the blender, so I bought a giant bag of baby spinach at Costco. Then, for reasons of both space and convenience, I went ahead and pureed most of it, and froze it in ice cube trays.
If that sounds a bit odd to you – a few years ago our CSA/farm share gave us bags and bags of spinach just ahead of first frost. I didn’t have room for it all, so pureed and froze – and found it very useful all winter! I wasn’t putting it in smoothies, then, but it meant I was already half way to Saag Paneer, I’d throw it into bean soup, I could and did use it a dozen ways. So I already knew the method works.
Then – we have a Too Many Cooks issue in my kitchen. I mean, most of the time it’s great, but… I don’t think I’ve mentioned her before, but the parents have an aide who has worked with them for several years. When we came, there was brief discussion, but everyone rapidly agreed that she should stay with us. She has a superb relationship with them (which alone is gold,) and she has training and experience in geriatrics and end of life, which we will need, one of these days.
In practice, I think she and I have been working well together. We find our skills, and the things the parents like and accept from each of us, dovetail nicely. We arrived and were able to institute several changes in the house that she’d been trying to talk them into for months – but then, they’ll accept other things from her that they won’t from me. And on the whole it works well. In the kitchen, she makes their lunches on the days she is here, I make all the other meals, she takes Don shopping once a week for milk, salad greens, and other basic weekly items (which is very important to him) but I now do the bulk of our shopping. (And of course, she does a lot that isn’t cooking…)
But every so often there is a hitch. I tell her I’ll hard cook eggs, and then have a migraine (or just forget) and she can’t make the egg salad she thought she’d give them. She finishes the soup Don likes to start lunch with, and forgets to tell me (I buy it or make it.)
So there I was, ready to put lunch on the table, with no soup. I don’t actually remember what I threw together that day, and he was not impressed, though he was polite… And I realized that, as well as paying more attention to how much soup we had on hand, I should work up a few Instant Soup recipes.
An Instant (or Quick) Cream of Something Soup fills so many needs, especially for caregivers. Look, it’s a serving of milk and a serving of vegetables, right there! Maybe someone who won’t eat vegetables will drink them. Maybe someone who resists smoothies will eat a cup of soup before dinner (and maybe you can slip a little protein powder into it, if you need to…)
Maybe a parent really misses cooking, but can’t stand at the stove more than a few minutes. Stirring a few things into a saucepan of milk, and seasoning it herself, will let her have a little more independence and choice than just opening a can. (If you need to, make up individual baggies with cubes of pureed vegetables and one roux cube – then she doesn’t even have to stand long enough to open several bags.)
And maybe you just have half a sandwich for lunch, and really want Something More, but don’t have time to fuss… Let’s not forget to take care of ourselves!
Directions for Instant Cream of Spinach Soup
Put everything in a pot, heat it up while stirring, you got soup.
First, I assume you have Roux Cubes. I have not been without them since I figured them out – they make sauce, gravy, and soup so easy! I use gluten free, of course, but if that’s not an issue, you can go back to the original and make them with wheat flour. If you don’t have them, you can start by making a roux of one tablespoon each of butter and flour – but then your soup isn’t quite Instant, is it?
I did write the recipe up for cubes of pureed spinach. I don’t assume everyone has them on hand… if you don’t, hold on, I’ll come back and give you directions for other forms (and other vegetables.)
Pour a cup of milk (whole, non-fat, non-dairy, any kind I have used in the past has worked) into a small saucepan. Add two cubes of pureed spinach, and one roux cube.
Put the pot over high heat, and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. (You don’t want that milk to scorch…) The icy cubes will slow that process down – by the time the milk is simmering, they will have melted into the milk.
Lower the heat, and continue to simmer a few minutes, stirring, while the soup thickens slightly. Add a dash of salt and a sprinkle of nutmeg, taste and add more if you want. Then serve.
Now – if you don’t have cubes of already pureed spinach, you need one more step. Put the milk in a blender, to begin with, and add a handful or two of spinach. (For what it’s worth, each of my cubes was about three quarters of an ounce – but spinach can be a pain to weigh…) Blend that until smooth, put that in the pot, add the roux cube, and proceed as above.
And of course, you can change the vegetables. Cream of pea is certainly a classic (with mint, not nutmeg.) It’s most traditional in spring, but with frozen peas you can make it any time of year! Cream of carrot (though I’d cook the carrot, first, and season with dill.) I already wrote up a good Cream of Tomato (though that is Almost Instant…) but you could make a single cup with this recipe, using tomato paste (and basil…) It’s actually a great way to use dribs and drabs of leftover vegetables – what are you going to do with a few tablespoons of leftover peas? Puree them in milk and make soup!
What kind of soup would you like to make? What vegetables do you have around that you’d like to use? Tell us in the comments!
Instant Cream of Spinach Soup
- 1 c milk
- 1 1/2 oz roughly spinach (I use 2 frozen cubes of pureed spinach)
- dash salt
- 1 roux cube
- sprinkle nutmeg
If you have frozen pureed spinach
- Place milk, frozen spinach, salt, and roux cube in a small saucepan.
- Place over high heat. Stir constantly until frozen cubes have thawed and milk comes to a simmer.
- Lower heat and continue to simmer, until soup is thickened.
If you have whole or chopped spinach (fresh or frozen)
- Place milk,spinach, and salt into a blender. Blend until smooth.
- Pour milk mixture into a saucepan and place over medium to high heat. Stir constantly and continue as above.
- Once soup has thickened, taste and adjust salt if needed. Serve at once in bowl or cup with a sprinkle of nutmeg.