I have been searching for a year and a half for this recipe. It’s one of the dishes our family enjoyed while dining at Greenfield Village in July of 2011, the meal that started this blog. My eldest daughter ordered dandelion soup and we all had a bite and we were all hooked.
So I was ecstatic to stumble across the recipe on Food.com. So happy, in fact, that I ran outside to dig up some weeds before my husband revved the engines of his super-mega huge mower for the first time this spring.
This is the perfect example of how historic cooks used what nature gave them to make a meal. In the days before people became obsessed with creating the perfect field of green grass, dandelions had free reign over fields and pasture, hill and valley. And some inventive cook must have looked at all those flower yellow buds and said, hey, I bet that would make a great soup. Kudos to her!
I did a little research before tackling this recipe. First, the entire dandelion plant is edible. Experts suggest you pick wild, free growing dandelions to avoid chemicals and also because dandelions like most of us have, which have been cut repeatedly by mower blades, tend to be more bitter than their wild cousins. But I live in the city and there aren’t a lot of free growing prairies from which to pick the perfect basket of dandelions, so I had to make do with my yard, which is not sprayed for chemicals (much to the chagrin of my neighbors, I’m betting). The blanching step rids the dandelions of their bitterness.
Dandelions are also super healthy. According to the USDA Bulletin #8, “Composition of Foods” (Haytowitz and Matthews 1984), dandelions rank in the top 4 green vegetables in overall nutritional value. Minnich, in “Gardening for Better Nutrition” ranks them, out of all vegetables, including grains, seeds and greens, as tied for 9th best. According to these data, dandelions are nature’s richest green vegetable source of beta-carotene, from which Vitamin A is created, and the third richest source of Vitamin A of all foods, after cod-liver oil and beef liver! They also are particularly rich in fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and the B vitamins, thiamine and riboflavin, and are a good source of protein.
So here’s the soup we love-it makes a full pot, enough for several days worth of leftovers for a family of four. It’s really delicious.
If you can’t find any dandelions, you can substitute spinach.
• 1 cup (about 4 regular size) carrots, diced
• 1 medium size onion, diced
• 4 teaspoons dried basil (or 4 tablespoons fresh)
• 2 teaspoons dried oregano (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
• 1 ½ tablespoon cumin
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 4 tablespoons of butter
• 8 cups of dandelion greens, blanched and chopped
• 8 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
• 1 can corn
• 1 can beans (white or black)
• 1 large potato, peeled and diced
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 2 teaspoons pepper
First pick the dandelions! If you can, look for young greens with buds that haven’t bloomed yet. I took a small garden rake, loosened the dirt around the roots, and pulled the plant up entirely. Chop off the roots and KEEP THEM in a plastic bag in a dark and dry place for use in a future blog recipe!
Rinse the plants at least twice to remove all the dirt.
Then soak the dandelions in cold water for about two hours. (I have no idea what this does, I was just following directions!)
Start a pot of boiling water. Once it’s at a rolling boil, throw the dandelions in and let them cook for about 15 minutes. Strain them in a colander and let them cool before chopping.
In the same pot that you used to blanch the dandelions, melt the butter over medium heat. Saute the carrots, onion, basil, oregano, cumin and garlic for about 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the vegetables start to get tender.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and bring it to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and let the whole thing simmer at least an hour or until the potatoes are tender. Correct the seasoning if desired.
Serve and enjoy!