Warm, blended, vegetable soups are the ultimate tool in my cleansing toolbox. They are like smoothies in that they expertly hold healthy fat, protein, fiber, and veggies all in one bowl without much effort. And they are salad's perfect winter counterpart; when you feel like something light that is still filling and will take the chill out of your body, soup is your answer. This soup's creaminess comes from raw Brazil nuts that have been soaked overnight. Brazil nuts are a great dairy substitute because when blended long enough they turn the soup into a smooth, rich, and creamy consistency without altering the flavor. I also love this soup because it gives me a chance to use watercress, an underused but very valuable green we should all be enjoying.
Why Brazil Nuts?
Cashews give a similar consistency when blended in soups, sauces, and smoothies . However, I like to use Brazil nuts because they are not as commonly used but are usually as easy to find in most large markets. Plus, the purpose of integrating cleansing foods into our regular meal routine throughout the year is to shake things up a bit and go with foods we don't usually eat; to add plant-based variety to our diet so our body is not constantly digesting the same limited range of foods and so we keep our palette and mind engaged.
Brazil nuts are most known for their high selenium content. Research has linked adequate amounts of selenium in the body to lower cancer rates, the ability to regulate the thyroid and therefore metabolism of nutrients and weight, the ability to neutralize harmful effects of toxic lead and mercury, and deactivate viruses. Additionally, unlike other nuts that are acid-forming, Brazil nuts are alkalizing and therefore able to support the body's naturally alkaline pH level. Soaking them before blending further enhances their alkalizing effects and makes them easier to blend into a creamy consistency.
Move over kale, it's time you share the spotlight! Kale is great, but so are all the other leafy greens such as broccoli, Swiss chard, collard greens, tatsoi, bok choy, and watercress. Watercress is very versatile, rich in phytonutrients, and like all leafy greens it purifies the blood (i.e. alkalizing) and is a powerful promoter of the body's detoxification, immune, and digestive functions. With high amounts of iron, calcium, Vitamins A,C, & K, and a mildly peppery bite similar to arugula, watercress is a green worth seeking out.
Eat this broccoli soup on its own for a light dinner or serve it as a first course for a larger meal or dinner party. We have enjoyed it both ways and I hope that you'll too find a place for it in your cleansing toolbox for all-year green support.
Creamy Broccoli Soup with Watercress
Notes: Watercress can usually be found at well-stocked grocery stores or farmer's markets. Here it is sold as Brunnenkresse at the Friday/Saturday farmer's market. If you cannot find it or it's not in season, baby spinach is a great substitute.
- Generous knob cold pressed coconut oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 large head broccoli
- 3 1/4 cups (769 ml) water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 big handfuls (61 gr) watercress
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 3/4 cup (107 gr) Brazil nuts (soaked 8-12 hours; rinsed and drained)
- Cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil (or extra-virgin olive oil)
- Balsamic vinegar
- Heat coconut oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook for a few minutes until onions begin to soften.
- In the meantime, chop broccoli florets and tender stem into bite size pieces. Add chopped broccoli, water, and salt to the pot (water should barely come even with broccoli). Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes, or until broccoli is tender and bright green.
- Remove from heat and stir in watercress to wilt. Allow soup to cool slightly, then transfer to an upright blender with Brazil nuts and lemon juice.
- Blend until smooth and creamy (1-3 minutes)*. You'll know when it's there because the green color will brighten and lighten slightly and the consistency will be smooth and almost pudding like.
- Ladle soup into bowls, and drizzle with pumpkin seed oil and balsamic.
*For this recipe an upright blender is more powerful and preferred over a hand (immersion) blenderto get the desired creamy consistency. If you're using a high-speed blender such as Vitamix, Ninja, NutriBullet, or the equivalent, you'll likely only need to blend for a minute or so.