Spring has sprung in Santa Barbara! Yes, we’re in the midst of a drought and our lawns may be looking a little grim, but in the kitchen we’re all about the green. The first seasonal asparagus is appearing on our tables, whether “au naturel” in lunch salads or lightly steamed with a wedge of lemon at dinner. Leeks, spinach, and mint are also popping up in our gardens and markets, so we thought it would be a perfect time to make this spring concoction from Anna Thomas’ Love Soup, which we think is fabulous. We’re going green for St. Paddy’s Day!
Spring Green Soup
(adapted from Love Soup, by Anna Thomas)
8 ounces leeks (about 2), white and light green parts
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for garnish
1 ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed but unpeeled
8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and sliced
12 ounces small green zucchini (about 3 medium), rinsed but unpeeled, sliced
8 ounces baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves or 1 tablespoon dried mint
3 cups vegetable broth
2 – 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Optional garnish: crumbled goat cheese or croutons
Wash the leeks thoroughly, drain them well and chop or slice them; you should have about 2 1/2 cups.
In a large nonstick skillet, sauté the leeks in the olive oil on medium heat, with a sprinkle of salt, until soft and tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, dice the potatoes and put them in a large pot with 4 cups of water and a teaspoon of salt. Cover and simmer for about ten minutes.
Add the asparagus, zucchini, raw spinach leaves, and sautéed leeks to the pot. Cover and simmer the soup for about fifteen minutes more. Add the mint leaves during the last few minutes.
Remove the soup from the heat, add the vegetable broth and allow the soup to cool slightly. Purée until smooth, either in a blender or with an immersion blender.
Return the soup to the pot (not necessary if you’ve used an immersion blender), stir in a little lemon juice and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. If the soup seems too thick, add a little more water or vegetable broth.
Cover and heat to simmer before serving.
Pour into individual bowls and swirl a thread of olive oil over the top of each serving; you can garnish with crumbled goat cheese or croutons.
Here are a few ways to bring a little more spring green to the soup:
Add spring herbs in small amounts to vary the flavor of this soup: fresh dill, fennel greens, and chives are all good ideas.
Other spring vegetables can be added to the mix as well: a handful of sweet peas or a small bunch of sorrel instead of spinach.