“There’s Green Stuff in the Fridge” Callaloo Soup

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I had a bunch of leftover greens in my fridge: a huge bunch of broccoli rabe and a smaller, but still substantial, amount of chopped kale. I was wondering what I could do with them before I forgot about them and they turned into a green liquid mush at the bottom of my vegetable drawer. Then it came to me: Callaloo!

Callaloo is a soup popular in the Caribbean, usually made with the leaves of the plant also called callaloo (or amaranth), but in Martinique at least, it’s common to substitute whatever leafy greens (especially dark greens like spinach and kale). My broccoli rabe and kale would be perfect for this.

Callaloo soup also usually includes okra (or as they are called in French, gombos — whence the Cajun “Gumbo”). The okra gives Callaloo its smooth, silky texture and provides some thickness to the broth. I did not have any okra. So I rooted around the pantry and found the perfect substitute: canned chickpeas, with their aquafaba — that slimy nutritious liquid that vegans prize as a replacement for egg whites.

Callaloo is also usually made with a big old meaty hambone, but that adds too much sodium (and besides, I didn’t have any on hand), so I diced up a few slices of low sodium turkey bacon.

So I went to work on it and came up with this lovely low sodium and very nutritious soup, with stuff I had on hand in the kitchen. And it tasted really good too.

Throw all of these ingredients into the Instapot (on Sauté), or into a pressure cooker, or large soup pot at medium-high heat. By the time the last ingredient goes in, the broth should be boiling. Everything is going in the blender at the end, so nothing needs to be chopped or sliced super thin — big chunks are fine for everything except the celery. Stir well after each addition.

  • 4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (use vegetable broth for a vegan version)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 whole (uncut!) scotch bonnet peppers or habaneros
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 shallots, chopped or sliced (red onion can be substituted, or 3 tbsp of Penzey’s air-dried Shallots, which I always keep on hand)
  • 2-3 slices of low-sodium turkey bacon (omit or replace with some textured vegetable protein for a vegan version)
  • 1 can of chickpeas, including the liquid
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour or tapioca flour, diluted in enough water to make a liquid paste (optional)
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of sliced celery (you want these to be fairly thin to avoid strands of fiber)
  • 4 to 6 cups of chopped dark leafy greens (broccoli rabe, kale, spinach, collard greens, or even callaloo if you’re lucky enough to find it in an international market)

Cover the pot or Instapot. For the Instapot, set it to pressure cooking at high for 15 minutes. For a regular soup pot, lower the heat to simmer and let it cook for an hour.

Remove the bay leaves and hot peppers.

Using an immersion blender or a food processor, process the soup well. It shouldn’t be completely liquid: there will be small chunks of vegetables and bacon that provide texture to the soup.

The hot peppers kept whole will provide a nice flavor but not a lot of spicy heat to the soup. Give it a taste. If you like a spicy soup, add half of one of the peppers and process  some more. Like it very spicy? Keep adding a half pepper at a time and taste until it’s perfect for you. (I used one of the peppers and it was perfect for me and my taste-tester: distinctly zingy without being fiery.

If desired, you can add a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt to your bowl of soup for an even creamier soup.