Emerald Soup with Scallops and Water Chestnuts


For a clear scarlet soup, substitute finely chopped raw beetroot for the spinach.


  • 500g (1lb) spinach
  • 1.75 litres (3 pints) water
  • 5 cm (2-inch) piece of fresh root ginger
  • 4 whole star anise
  • Coarsely grated zest and strained juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 375–500g (12oz-1lb) queen scallops or 8–10 large ones
  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 227g (oz) can of water chestnuts
  • Salt and black pepper


Remove any thick stems from the spinach. Roughly chop the leaves, then put the spinach, the water and about three teaspoons of salt into a large pan. Cut up the ginger fairly roughly without peeling and add it to the pan, together with the star anise and the orange zest and strained juice. Bring the mixture to the boil, then cover the pan and simmer gently for 15–20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the liquid through a fine strainer into a bowl, pressing the spinach down hard with the back of a wooden spoon to extract all its liquid. Pour the strained liquid back through the strainer into a clean pan. Add the vinegar, season to taste with salt and pepper and leave the pan to one side.

Leave queen scallops whole, but slice larger scallops across thinly and then cut the orange coral across into 2–3 pieces. Slice the spring onions into 5 mm (¼-inch) pieces, using as much of the green part as possible. Drain the water chestnuts and slice them very thinly. If you aren’t going to eat this soup for several hours, put the scallops, spring onions and water chestnuts into the refrigerator and cover them with clingfilm. Just before serving, bring the saucepan of spinach liquid up to the boil, then reduce the heat so that it is barely bubbling and add the scallops, spring onions and water chestnuts. Cook gently for only two minutes, or just until the scallops are opaque.

To serve

Serve immediately from a tureen with crusty rolls or bread.