Spinach Soup with Rosemary Croutons Recipe
Spinach Soup with Rosemary Croutons

When I asked Darina Allen -- chef, cookbook author and director of the legendary Irish cooking school Ballymaloe -- what the secret to great cooking is, her sky-blue eyes lit up. She smiled and said brightly, "It's really quite simple: you start with what's coming up in the garden."

There is nothing greener or fresher than Ireland's County Cork in spring. That's where I recently met up with Allen, the Alice Waters of Europe. I walked with her through one of the beautiful gardens that dot her family's manor hotel and farm in search of fresh spinach and rosemary for her easy Spinach Soup with Rosemary Croutons and other delicious recipes.

She snipped crisp arugula and fresh mint to flavor a light fish soup and plucked dandelion greens from the yard for a salad.

At Ballymaloe, cooking lessons begin in the garden. "If you teach people to grow their own food, they appreciate it all the more," Allen told me. "They start to understand the value of eating seasonally, locally and organically. I try to explain that if you pick food at the right time, it should taste perfect -- it shouldn't need a lot of other flavors or complicated cooking."

The food coming out of Ballymaloe is a far cry from the cabbage and corned beef Americans typically associate with Ireland. Light delicious salads, creamy soups, roast duck and more are served in the gardens on tables with checked blue tablecloths.

Now that I'm home, I'm heading to the season's first farmers' market to look for asparagus, Bibb lettuce and other ingredients to make some fresh spring recipes. But even before I do that, I'm getting out the shovel and plan to dedicate 10 square feet of my yard to a kitchen garden.

Spinach Soup with Rosemary Croutons

Rosemary has a strong flavor, but offers only a subtle hint in this spinach soup. If you like, any seasonal greens you have on hand can be substituted for the spinach.

Makes 6 appetizer servings, 1 cup each.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour


2 cups 1/2-inch cubes country-style sourdough bread

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried


1 tablespoon butter

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

2 cups diced peeled red potatoes

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, vegetable broth or water

6 cups fresh spinach or chard leaves, tough stems removed

Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish

To prepare croutons: Preheat oven to 375 F.

Toss bread cubes, oil, garlic and rosemary in a large bowl until well combined. Spread in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake until golden and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, to prepare soup: Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Pour in broth (or water). Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in spinach (or chard) and continue to simmer until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes more. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or regular blender (in batches), leaving it a little chunky if desired. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.)

Serve the soup garnished with nutmeg, if desired, and topped with the croutons.

Recipe Nutrition:

Per serving: 169 calories; 7 g fat (2 g sat, 4 g mono); 5 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 6 g protein; 2 g fiber; 578 mg sodium; 334 mg potassium

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (37 percent daily value), Vitamin C (32 percent dv), Folate (19 percent dv)

1 1/2 Carbohydrate Servings

Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 1/2 fat

Soup, Spinach Soup, American


Subscribe to Receive our Gourmet Recipes

Spinach Soup with Rosemary Croutons

World-renowned chefs with an extraordinary passion for food share their passion on iHaveNet.com. These chefs make great cooking easier than imagined. Each gourmet recipe features expert advice and an easy-to-make recipe. Exactly what you need to transform your home cooking from acceptable to delectable

© Tribune Media Services