Mustard greens are one clan in the immense, and immensely varied, brassica family of greens. About all this assortment of vegetables has in common, from a cook's standpoint, is their feisty flavor. Visually, and in texture, brassicas range from the pale white, crisp and sweet-tasting stems of bok choy to the ruffled and zingy leaves of wine-red Japanese mustard greens.

Most of us associate mustard greens with Southern cooking, where the curly leaves of green mustard are stewed into submission, usually along with some part of a pig, and served up as a mess of greens with pot likker. Maybe it is because I am a Yankee, but for me, this tender mustard tastes better briefly wilted in a bit of oil or broth, then mixed into rice or served with beans. I also like it cut crosswise into strips and tossed to simmer in hot soup a few minutes before it is served. These short-cooking methods keep more of the greens' true flavor, which I do enjoy. They also retain more of the considerable good nutrition in mustard greens, which includes vitamin C, beta-carotene, and calcium.

If you prefer less aggressive-tasting greens, look in Asian markets for poetically named wrapped heart mustard, whose wide leaves, flaring from crunchy, ribbed stems, wrap into a head resembling a muscular romaine lettuce, and red-in-the-snow. This deceptively named mustard green has long, thin stems and bright green leaves. Although the Chinese usually use it to make what they call preserved cabbage, chopping it, then pickling it in salt, it is delicious braised in chicken broth, or added to a stir-fry.

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Mustard greens are more tender and far sweeter than kale, collards, or dandelion. They also cook faster than most other dark, leafy greens, including broccoli raab and Swiss chard. All mustard greens shrink enormously in cooking, so one pound may yield as little as a half cup of cooked greens. Try them in place of spinach. Baby mustard greens are often included in the elegant salad mix called mesclun, where they add just a nice amount of bite.

Chicken Soup with Greens and Black Beans

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Makes 4 servings.


  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded, cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded, cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 6 cups mustard greens, lightly packed, cut in 1/2-inch strips
  • 4 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup (3 oz.) shredded cooked chicken


  1. Heat oil in medium Dutch oven or large saucepan. Saute onion and pepper over medium-high heat until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and greens. Stir with wooden spoon until greens collapse and are bright green, about 3 minutes.
  2. Pour in chicken broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until greens are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Mix in beans and chicken. Cook until they are heated through, about 5 minutes. Divide soup among four bowls and serve.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
142 calories,
4 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat),
14 g. carbohydrate,
14 g. protein,
6 g. dietary fiber,
706 mg. sodium

Diabetic Exchanges: 1 Bread/Starch, 2 Low-Fat Meat