Sea Spinach Soup
Sea spinach is at its sweetest and most delicious at present…. I absolutely love it and really want you to know about it so if you live near a rocky strand, look out for it – the shiny green leaves are unmistakable. It is, in fact, the ancestor to most cultivated varieties of beet, from beetroot to spinach beet. It can be cooked exactly like garden spinach and used in the same way, for example, try serving it in Middle Eastern style with raisins and pine kernels and a touch of cinnamon. Not surprisingly, because sea spinach is washed by the tides, it is full of iodine, minerals and other trace elements and it has an addictive salty tang. Sea spinach is tougher and slightly stronger in flavour than garden spinach, so it takes a little longer to cook.
The trick with these green soups is not to add the greens until the last minute, otherwise they will overcook and the soup will lose its fresh taste and bright green colour.
50g (2oz/1/2 stick) butter
110g (4oz/1 cup) onion, chopped
150g (5oz/1 cup) potatoes, chopped
600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) homemade chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
425-600ml (3/4-1 pint/2 – 2 1/2 cups) creamy milk (1/4 cream and 3/4 milk)
salt and freshly ground pepper
225-350g (8-12oz/3 cups) sea spinach, destalked and chopped
Freshly ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) whipped cream (optional
Freshly chopped parsley
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. When it foams add the onions and potatoes and turn them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the boiling stock and milk, bring back to the boil and simmer until the potatoes and onions are fully cooked. Add the sea spinach and boil with the lid off for about 3-5 minutes, until the sea spinach is tender. Do not overcook or the soup will lose its fresh green colour.
Liquidise and taste and add some freshly grated nutmeg. Serve in warm bowls garnished with a blob of whipped cream and some chopped parsley