Saturday, March 28, 2009

Welcome Spring Soup

Hello Spring! Finally, winter seems to be coming to a close. Not that we really have true winters here on the Central Coast. I love spring, and I love the spring farmers market even more. Asparagus, fresh peas, pea tendrils, artichokes, baby rainbow chard, baby beets, spring onions, and spring garlic are all showing up at the market. To welcome in spring, I decided to make a green soup filled with quintessential spring vegetables. This soup was not only inspired by spring, but also by my daughter's new favorite solid food combination; green pea and spinach puree.

This soup is a very green puree of spring onions, green peas, and spinach, and is garnished with sauteed asparagus, pea tendrils, and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil. Beautiful purple chive blossoms or arugula blossoms would be a perfect garnish as well. This soup is also quick to make, and can easily be made with frozen green peas.

Welcome Spring Soup

For the Soup

-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-2 spring onions, bulb only, sliced
-1 large garlic clove, sliced
-1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
-1 strip myer lemon peel (optional)
-3 1/2 -4 cups vegetable stock or water
-4 cups green peas
-3 large handfuls cleaned baby spinach
-salt and fresh ground white pepper

For the Garnish
-1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-1 bunch thin asparagus, or 1/2 bunch thick asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
-2 large handfuls cleaned pea tendrils
-salt and fresh ground white pepper
-exceptional quality extra virgin olive oil for garnish

In a 4 quart soup pot, heat the tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat. When hot, add in the spring onions and garlic. Add a small amount of salt and sweat the onions until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the mined thyme, lemon peel, and 3 1/2 cups of stock or water. Season again with a little salt and white pepper. Bring to a simmer, and simmer 10 minutes. Add in the peas and cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes depending on the size and freshness of the peas. If using frozen green peas, cook just ntil the soup returns to a boil. Add the spinach leaves, turn off the heat, and stir until the spinach has wilted. Blend the soup, in batches if necessary, until smooth. Pass the soup through a fine mesh strainer for a thinner, smoother soup, or leave as is. Add the additional 1/2 cup stock if the soup seems too thick.

Heat the 1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a medium sized saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add in the asparagus and saute until tender. Add in the pea leaves and saute about 1-2 minutes more, or until tender. Season with salt and white pepper.

Re-heat the soup if need be and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Ladle the warm soup into bowls and garnish with a spoonful of the asparagus and pea tendrils. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with chive or arugula blossoms if available. Serves 4.

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