green soup is the remedy for seasonally affected disorder

Kale is loaded with phyotnutrients.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The post-Christmas let-down: late nights, over-indulgence and stress have taken their toll.  I feel like I’m losing my mind.  Is it Seasonally Affected Disorder, too many decisions, too much work, too much chocolate?  Whatever.  I need to get back on track.

A Reader’s Digest story called “Anna’s Perfect Green Soup” piqued my interest.   According to cookbook author Anna Thomas, she invented this satisfying soup one winter, and it improved her mood and helped her fit into her skinny jeans.  Definitely worth a try.

I Googled the recipe and found several different versions, which I adapted for what I had in my pantry (as usual.)  Not only is it tasty and filling, it is packed with phytonutrients.  A serving has up to 500% of the RDA of Vitamin A, 300% of Vitamin C, 25% of calcium, 30% of potassium, 20% of iron and 9 grams of protein, depending on what ingredients you use.  You can use an assortment of greens, including kale, chard, mustard greens, spinach or even broccoli. Walmart carries “Power Greens,” a big bag of mixed greens which works beautifully.  Here’s my version:

I plan to take it to work for lunch with some Mary’s Gone Crackers gluten free seed crackers.  Seasonally Affected Disorder, get off my lawn!

Here’s the recipe:

Green Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Green Soup can be made with any combo of green vegetables and grains. Experiment!
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 cups water
  • ¼ cup organic brown rice (most recipes call for arborio rice, use what you like)
  • 1 bunch mustard greens
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 12 ounce bag of baby spinach
  • (Or, use an entire bag of Power Greens mix, available at Walmart)
  • 32 oz carton of organic chicken broth
  • Big pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Fresh lemon juice
  1. Heat olive oil in a saute pan.
  2. Add chopped onions and a sprinkle of sea salt; cook over medium heat until onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine 3 cups of water, ½ teaspoon of sea salt and brown rice in soup pot.
  4. Heat to boiling, then reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove tough stems from kale and mustard greens and discard.
  6. Chop coarsely. (Use a food processor and pulse, so the greens don't get over-processed.)
  7. Chop the spinach, but keep separate.
  8. When rice has cooked 15 minutes, add greens and return to simmer and cook 10 minutes.
  9. Add a little of the rice/greens cooking water to the onions and stir.
  10. Immediately add onions back into rice/greens pot.
  11. Add spinach, vegetable broth and cayenne pepper. Return to simmer and cook 5 minutes or so, until spinach is tender but still bright green.
  12. Add soup to blender in batches and thoroughly blend until pureed and very smooth.
  13. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator.

About the Author

Kathleen Caron

I'm good at finding stuff, and I love to share all my discoveries. I write about the intersection between faith, family, fellowship and food.

  • glenda chadwell

    how many calories does a bowl have?

    • Kathleen Caron

      Hi Glenda, it has about 90 calories for an 8 oz bowl. I add a little feta cheese to mine, which probably brings it up to around 160. I forgot to mention, this recipe is also very affordable, as greens are cheap and plentiful this time of year.

  • Janelle

    I’ve definitely been feeling the post-Christmas ickiness. I will try the soup!

    • Kathleen Caron

      I hope you like it–I would be interested to hear how it makes you feel!

  • Christine White

    Hi Kathleen, I read the same article and decided to try the recipe as well. I just made it yesterday. I love it! It is easy to make and truly is delicious. I have shared with my friends and even my husband gives it two thumbs up.

    • Kathleen Caron

      I know, I love Readers Digest! It always has some really great advice about nutrition, finance, health, etc. I don’t know why I don’t subscribe to it, the only reason I read the story was because I picked up the magazine while I was waiting to get a pedicure! Stay healthy, and thanks for reading, Christine!

  • Victoria

    I just made this soup and I can’t believe we are talking about the same recipe. There is no way to puree until smooth. I made it according to the directions in Reader’s Digest and when I tried to puree with my immersion blender (which is a good brand, Bamix) it just wouldn’t get anywhere near smooth. Then I put it in a regular blender and tried again, still didn’t work. I ended up straining the liquid part out thru a colander. It tastes ok, but a large quantity of the greens remained behind and my kitchen is a huge mess. I seriously find it hard to believe that anyone actually made this recipe and had it come out “perfectly smooth” as it said in Reader’s Digest.

    • Kathleen Caron

      Hi Victoria—hmm, not sure why that would be. I didn’t make quite the same recipe as Readers Digest, but adapted it a little. I’ve made it several times and it came out quite smooth. Would you be willing to give it one more try, using my recipe? I think you’ll like it!

      • vuthy

        I must be blind… where is your recipe? There seems to be a big gap in the entry (at least on my screen!)

        • Kathleen Caron

          I’m so sorry, something went terribly wrong with the plugin and I will have to manually replace all the recipes. I emailed you the recipe for Perfect Green Soup, let me know if you didn’t get it.

          • vuthy

            Oh no! I hope it’ll be a fairly painless process fixing the recipes. I made the soup tonight from the original recipe on EatingWell, subbing kale for the chard and adding lots of onion. It was a nice, simple soup and I can see a lot of potential for variations. I’m imagining some cilantro for a crisp bite in the summer.

            • Kathleen Caron

              Hmm sounds intriguing, do let me know how that turns out!

  • New England Sue

    I made this soup tinight and it was delicious! I used swisschard, and added mushrooms to the
    onion mixture. I then topped it off with some grated parm. Perfect for a 10 degree winter night.

    • Kathleen Caron

      Ooh, that sounds really, must try. I love how versatile the recipe is. Thanks for commenting !

  • Pamela Hodges

    Oh, boy does this ever look good. I want the greens to give me energy. Love the story with the photograph. Keep writing these, I see a cookbook in your future. Especially if you include all of the chatter of your life. Those are my favorite cookbooks, the ones where I meet the cook.

    • Kathleen Caron

      Thanks for commenting Pamela, I am seriously thinking that my blog is going to be almost wholly devoted to food and health, so I’ll take that as confirmation that I’m moving in the right direction.

  • Barb

    I just got done making the recipe from Reader’s Digest. I did use the kale and spinach, used homemade chicken broth b/c I did not have vegetable broth (I am not a vegetarian), did not have the cayenne pepper and forgot to put in the lemon juice before I had a cup of it. But it was still absolutely delicious!! Made mine in the blender and it came out nice and smooth. I am so grateful to Reader’s Digest for publishing this recipe as I have been trying to get more greens in my diet and could not ever fathom eating cooked greens.

    • Kathleen Caron

      Hi Barb, I made it with chicken broth too one time and thought it tasted about the same. That’s the thing I love about this recipe, it’s so versatile, everyone gets to do their own “spin” on it. I really should subscribe to Reader’s Digest because I always learn something every time I read it.


    I need to get more greens too. As in START eating them. I’ll try this too

    • Kathleen Caron

      Let me know how you like it Christa, most people who have tried either my recipe or the one in Readers Digest really enjoy the soup. It’s definitely super healthy, but if something doesn’t taste good, I don’t care how healthy it is.

  • Cathie

    Best soup ever!! Can’t wait to make again. I added 2 cloves of freshly grated garlic, so good. Also only had mustard greens, spinach and brocolli so went with that. 5 star for sure.

    • Kathleen Caron

      I’m so glad you liked it! I will try with the garlic and broccoli. You did add the cayenne I hope? A splash of Franks hot sauce is good too.

  • Dove Brown

    I love this soup! I just made it for the 3rd time since I saw it in Reader’s Digest. I was raving about it to a friend and thought I would try to find it on-line to send her a copy and came across this. It was so good in the original, I haven’t thought to substitute, but reading everyone else’s ideas, I might try something new the next time. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Kathleen Caron

      Per Cathy’s suggestion below, I made it again yesterday and added garlic to the onions, and I added broccoli to the greens. It really was the best ever. I put peppers in it one time and nobody liked that much, but for the most part it’s a very forgiving recipe. Thanks for commenting!

  • texasgal

    We added quinoa and flaxseed, which gives you a little more protein. It is really yummy! At night for supper we add some cheese and have a small turkey sandwich with it.

    • lauren

      when you added the flax seed did you do that at the same point in the recipe where the rice is added? I love the idea of adding it just wasn’t sure how it would work

      • Kathleen Caron

        I haven’t tried it yet, but when you blend the soup the flaxseed should break up. I use flaxseed in my smoothie every morning, and it blends right in. I guess it calls for an experiment!

    • Kathleen Caron

      Another great idea, I will have to try that one! I need to come up with a spring alternative, as this is sort of a winter dish.

  • Pingback: how i plan to stay healthy this winter()