“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.” — Mark Twain
Spring can be one of the most elusive of all the seasons, some days darkened by dampness and bone-chilling rain, while the very next day will burst with vibrant sunshine. With such mercurial conditions, a conscious cook must be creative when preparing captivating spring meals.
Soup is a particularly nourishing dish that will warm and soothe on any raw day, or invigorate and revitalize on bright and cheerful days. Most soups are wonderfully simple to prepare, making them a boon to the busy cook. And with a rainbow of healthy ingredients, soups are a colorful bowl of liquid love that will feed your family with joy.
Asparagus spears, lightly steamed and then pureed with chicken broth, a bit of whole milk and freshly chopped parsley and tarragon makes for a superlative spring soup. Its gorgeous shade of pale green is positively jewel-like and can be an elegant addition to Easter or any special-occasion spring gathering.
Tomatoes roasted with onions and garlic can also form the base for a zesty and vitamin-rich soup. Blended with chicken or vegetable stock and garnished with fresh basil shards and a spoonful of parmesan cheese, spring tomato soup will infuse the body with plenty of vitamin C. Kids will love grilled cheese croutons on top. Simply prepare your usual grilled cheese sandwich, cut into small squares and scatter on top of the tomato soup.
Common pantry items will help you concoct a custom soup that will be particularly pleasing. Canned tomato puree adds color and flavor, beans such as cannellini, black, red kidney or garbanzos add fiber and protein and egg noodles, spaghetti, orzo, brown rice or ditalini are all excellent additions, as well. Leftover roast chicken, tiny meatballs, and chicken sausage lend hearty sustenance to the soup pot, along with nutrient-dense root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, parsnips, and onions, which are flavorful and fortifying. Frozen vegetables are an awesome, easy add-in as well.
Prepare your delicious life with a big, steaming pot of spring soup!
Spring Vegetable Soup
2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
1 -2 large leeks, well washed, thinly sliced white and light green parts (or substitute 1 sweet onion, minced)
1 large shallot, minced
2 large organic carrots, peeled and chopped
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
10 cups chicken or vegetable stock (homemade or your favorite canned variety)
1 ½ cups cannellini beans
1 cup diced zucchini
10 asparagus spears, cut in thirds
1 cup frozen peas (or green beans)
1 13.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
fresh parsley, basil, and tarragon, well washed and chopped (use one or a combination of all three — a large handful)
In a large pot, heat the oil on medium high heat. Add leeks or onion, shallot and carrot, season with a little salt and pepper. Stir until well softened and turning golden. Add tomato paste and garlic, and stir well to incorporate into other ingredients. Re-season with salt and pepper. Add the stock along with the beans, zucchini, asparagus, peas or green beans and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low boil and let cook for approximately ten minutes or until vegetables are cooked, but still firm.
Serve in warm bowls, garnished with chopped herbs. Offer grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper when serving.
For more information on Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, The Conscious Cook, go to www.theconsciouscook.net