Well, I really love spring. I eagerly anticipate the rebirth of flora, little green nubs pushing up through the still frigid ground, reaching for sunkissed warmth; swollen buds on branches of stark naked trees. The return of the robin, chirping in the early morning darkness, gives me a sleepy smile as I lay abed before arising. The different aroma of the outdoor air, slightly sweet in its earthiness. Ahhh, spring.
I was talking with my mother yesterday about the wonderful availability of fruits and vegetables in the groceries of today. We mentioned how much we both like the stronger tasting vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and of course, asparagus.
It’s so wonderful that we can now get fresh asparagus almost any time of the year. Of course it is probably much better to have spears poking up from the ground in your own garden plot, but those of us with green thumbs for ;egetables have to settle for what we can get at the grocery.
As I mentioned here, I enjoyed a delicious asparagus spring pea soup at Panera a few years ago. It was so good that I was motivated to try to work up a reasonble fascimile. I prepared it within a few days so that I could compare my soup’s taste with my memory of what Panera served before my memory became cold. I was pretty well satisfied with my rendition of the soup and here is the recipe for those of you who await spring and the greening of the Northern Hemisphere as much as I.
Morgana’s Spring Pea and Asparagus Soup
1 T. butter and 1 T. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (1/2-3/4 c.)
2 stalks celery, chopped (1/2 c.)
1 leek, split lengthwise, washed well and sliced (light green and white part only)
Mixed fresh herbs (I used thyme parsley, mint, and basil, about 1 T. of each chopped)
1 quart chicken broth (low sodium, preferred)
2 c. water
2 c. green shelled, English peas (fresh or frozen)
1 potato, peeled and cubed
1 bunch asparagus, ends discarded, and stalks sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Dash of Tabasco or other hot sauce, optional
1 c. whole milk, half and half, heavy cream, or evaporated milk
1. Melt the butter in a large stock pot. Add oil and heat to medium high.
2. Saute onion, celery, and leek until tender, about 10 minutes. Don’t let them brown.
3. Add broth, water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and add potato. Cook until potato is nearly tender. Add peas and asparagus and cook for 5-10 minutes until asparagus stalks are tender. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Tabasco.
4. Puree in batches in a blender or use a stick blender to puree in the cooking pot. Add milk, or cream and heat just until warm. Be careful not to boil. This is great with some cheese and a big slice of good bread.
For those of you who might have been bewildered by my earlier ingredient “2 d. peas”, I obviously had a typo pass by my normally eagle-eyed editor. It was supposed to read “2 c. peas”. These are your garden variety English green peas, not sugar snap, not split peas, not snow peas.