Redeeming Green Soup with Lemon and Cayenne

Last week, I metaphorically hit a wall. I have completely neglected the requirements since I have been so preoccupied with the tasks on my to-do list. important things like eating, sleeping, and spending time with friends. A person can only ignore that stuff for so long before she loses it and starts crying and calling her mother. And I mean me when I say “a person.”

In retrospect, I realize that I’ve been attempting to do far too much at once and on my own. Examples include submitting an application for a trademark, setting up my new light fixture, hemming and hanging curtains, revamping this website, bringing my dog in for checkups three times per week, compulsively baking brownies six times until they are perfect, and, well, SEND HELP.

kale and cooking greens

However, the dead of winter is the perfect time to stay inside and concentrate on some projects. I’m prepared to relax now that the weather is warming up and there are fewer challenging tasks on my to-do list. To begin with, I’m making an effort to go to bed at a decent time.

As part of our last night’s girls’ night, I also invited my buddies over. This healing and rejuvenating green soup, which our friend Tessa had prepared for us during a previous girls’ night, was what I made for them. Her coworker had strongly suggested the recipe. I decided to share it with everyone because I found it to be so enjoyable.

I’m well aware that the mossy green color of this soup won’t help it win any beauty contests. However, I’ll make an effort to persuade you to try this soup because it’s really good. The flavorful, sweet caramelized onions add a ton to the dish and counteract any bitterness in the greens. Greens are combined with a modest amount of starchy arborio rice to help the soup become more creamy and thick (without any cream). Finally, cayenne pepper and lemon give the flavor a tremendous boost.

This soup also works if you’ve ever had kale belly, or as I like to refer to it, that glowy, life-is-good feeling that comes from your abdomen after eating a lot of kale salad. Maybe all the vitamin C is to blame.

arborio rice and cooked kale

There are a couple of ways to serve this soup. As a simple bisque, this soup would be a great side for a sandwich or avocado on toast (serving it with a salad might be a little redundant on the greens). If you want to turn it into a full meal, I suggest serving the soup on a bed of brown rice (I like basmati) with chickpeas. My friends and I really liked the chickpea addition, which adds both texture and protein.

You can also swirl a little olive oil on top to add some richness and up the satiety factor. Definitely sprinkle it with freshly ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. This soup is just crazy good and crazy good for you.

greens and cayenne pepper




Also read:  Thai Curried Butternut Squash Soup


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons plus 3 cups water, divided
  • ¼ cup arborio rice, rinsed (I used brown arborio rice)
  • 1 large bunch kale or green chard, preferably organic (about 1 pound)
  • 14 cups gently packed spinach or baby cooking greens, like chard, preferably organic (about 12 ounces)*
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Big pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste (I used over ¼ teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste
  • Serve with (optional): cooked brown basmati rice and cooked chickpeas


  1. First prepare the greens: Remove the ribs from the chard/kale and discard or save them for another recipe. Coarsely chop or tear the kale leaves. Trim any tough stems from the spinach/baby greens and roughly chop the leaves.
  2. Caramelize the onions: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, add 2 tablespoons water and cover the skillet (I used a baking sheet to cover mine). Cook until the onions are greatly reduced and have a deep caramel color, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir frequently while the pan is still hot and occasionally once the pan has cooled down (always recover the pan after stirring).
  4. Cook the arborio rice: While the onions are cooking, combine the remaining 3 cups water and ¾ teaspoon salt in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Add rice and bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. When the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, stir in the chard greens or kale. Return to a simmer; cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  6. When the onions are caramelized, stir a little of the simmering liquid into them. Then add the onion mixture to the rice along with the spinach, vegetable broth and cayenne. Return to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring once, until the spinach is tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes more.
  7. Puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender until perfectly smooth, or in a regular blender in batches (never fill your blender past the maximum fill line, and be careful with hot soup). Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice, sea salt or cayenne pepper, if desired. Garnish each bowl of soup with a drizzle of olive oil.
  8. Divide the soup into bowls if you’re serving it as a bisque, or serve in bowls over cooked rice and chickpeas for a more complete meal. Garnish soup with a swirl of olive oil if you’d like. Serve with lemon wedges and freshly ground black pepper on the side.