Remembering Gethsemane with Green Soup

We faithful foodies at The Monitor have been pretty busy for the last few days getting the Holy Week edition of the paper ready. But with the Triduum so close at hand, it’s time to post a recipe or two for Holy Thursday.

This day of commemoration of the Last Supper is known by many names. In England, it’s called Maundy Thursday – a term that comes from the old Latin name for the day, “Dies Mandatum,” – “the day of the new commandment.”

In many eastern European countries, it’s known as Green Thursday. Several explanations for this appear on

One is that in medieval times, green was the color of the vestments worn on this day. Another is that this is a reference to “the Green Ones,” the penitents who, being re-admitted to the Church, wore sprigs of green herbs to express their joy.

In Germany, the term Grundonnerstag – literally Green Thursday – is a corruption of  “greinen” – to weep. Another explanation – my favorite actually – is that Jesus prayed in a green meadow in the Garden of Gethsemane on Holy Thursday night. 

It was the custom in all these countries to observe a strict fast on Green Thursday, eating only a single, meatless, complete meal, free of any food of animal origin. This being the case, Holy Thursday meals were composed largely of green vegetables.

In many countries, this custom is still observed. “Green soups” for dinner are a favorite meal. The Czechs and Moravians still eat a soup of green herbs followed by a green salad.

Since so many green vegetables are available right now in the early spring market place and at good prices too, it seemed like a good idea to include a basic recipe which can make for an appealing broccoli or asparagus soup or – a combination of both.

Green Thursday Soup

 Ingredients: 2 bunches broccoli or two bunches of asparagus, trimmed;  3 stalks celery; 3 teaspoons unsalted butter; 1/2 teaspoon thyme; 4 cups vegetable  broth; 4 cups milk; 2 medium sweet onions, chopped; 1 teaspoon chopped garlic; 1/2 cup all-purpose flour; 1/2 teaspoon marjoram; salt and pepper to taste.

Directions: If using broccoli, break into small florets and steam for five minutes; place in cold water and set aside. If using asparagus, trim away the brown stalks and cut into pieces. Steam for five minutes, place in cold water and set aside. In a 3 quart pot, cook onion, celery and garlic in butter until soft. Add chicken broth, flour and herbs. Continue to cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Add the milk and let it simmer (do not let it boil). Add broccoli or asparagus and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook until heated through. With broccoli, I usually don’t blend or process the soup because the florets are so appealing to look at and eat. With asparagus soup, on the other hand, I do use the blender for a creamy texture.

As we move into the great Triduum, the book, “Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers,” offers this first song of the night’s liturgy that will “echo through every moment” of the three holy days:

“We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection; through him, we are saved and made free.”                           

                                                See Galatians 6:14


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