This wholesome springtime soup is commonly served all over the Mediterranean and Middle East. It uses the freshest ingredients and, as the vegetables are not cooked for long, the soup keeps its bright color, all its flavor, and therefore its nutrients. Try different combinations of greens— spinach and beet leaves also work well. I had this soup at a simple café within a vegetable market where all these vegetables were being sold. In terms of distance, the food traveled a matter of a few feet from market stall to saucepan. Serve in spring and early summer.
– 1lb (450g) chard or spinach leaves, or beet.
– leaves (stalks removed), or a combination of all three.
– 1 quart good-quality vegetable or chicken stock.
– 2 tbsp olive oil.
– 2 onions, finely chopped.
– 2 leeks, trimmed and rinsed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced.
– ½ cup long-grain white rice.
– 2 tbsp white wine vinegar.
– 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
– 1½ cups plain Greek-style yogurt.
– large pinch of ground turmeric.
– juice of 1 lemon.
– ½ bunch of fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped.
– salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 2: 2Heat the oil in a heavy pan or casserole over medium-high heat. Add the onion, leek, and chard stems, and cook over low heat for 4–5 minutes until slightly colored. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes, to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the hot stock and vinegar, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 12–15 minutes or until the rice is tender. While the soup is simmering, mince the garlic with a little salt. Stir into the yogurt with the turmeric and half the lemon juice. Mix together, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
Step 3: 3When the rice is tender, add the shredded chard leaves to the soup. Simmer for about 3 minutes until the leaves are tender. Remove from the heat and whisk in the yogurt mixture, then add the mint. Check the seasoning, adding a little extra lemon juice or cracked black pepper
Note : Beet tops Beet leaves, or tops, make a great extra vegetable, which you often get for free when you buy beets. They are delicious when blanched and sautéed, providing a delicious sweetness combined with an irony earthiness. The Italians use beet tops a lot; they make a wonderful addition to a ravioli filling.