Green Tonic, or Bacon with Benefits
So it’s time for something tonic, and I don’t mean the kind that gets twinned with gin.
Around here, among the health nuts and hippies and health-hobbyists and everyone else who wants to add clarity to their diet (myself included), all-green soups are having their moment. I’m glad to see it because it just so happens that my garden is looking lively but still only spurting green leafy things. (And a bowlful of green is THE antidote to summer corn dogs, to which we’ve also developed a small attachment.)
This one is packed with spinach and swiss chard, and also the last of the dandelion greens for some grown-up bitterness and an extra jolt of health. Most green soups remain virtuous to the end, but I love this one all the more for being weak and begging for some bacon companionship. The round notes of smoke are a perfect (and actually, classic) partner for the tweak of dandelion green bitterness, and the mustard seeds and dijon knit the two together pretty darn nicely.
And yes, you should definitely leave the bacon fat in the pan before you add the onions. Good Lord, any healthier and it would be no fun.
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup cooked leftover rice
2 tablespoons butter
Heat a large pot over medium heat, add the diced bacon and cook, stirring often, until lightly crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and leave the fat in the pan. Add the onion to the pan and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until soft and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the coriander seed in a small pan over medium-low heat until fragrant. Add to a spice grinder (or your coffee grinder) along with the mustard seed and process until finely ground. Add to the onions in the pan, along with the nutmeg and garlic. Cook for one minute longer, until fragrant.
Add the rice, water, Dijon, salt, and pepper to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook until the rice looks saturated and plump and the broth tastes good, about 10 minutes. Add all of the greens, push down to submerge, and cook until they wilt, about 3 minutes.
Puree the soup in batches in a blender—carefully, with a towel clamped over the lid—and and pour into a clean pot to keep warm. Add the butter.
Serve the soup with the reserved bacon, a swirl of olive oil, and a few leaves torn basil.
Chill any soup you aren’t serving right away over an ice bath to preserve its green color, and refrigerate.