Will someone please hand me the remote so I can skip the whole “March comes in like a lion” thing and go directly to the part where it “goes out like a lamb?” First thing this morning Charlie announced in his sometimes aggravatingly cheerful voice, “Looks like we’re going back to winter.” Oh no, anything but that. And by the way, does anyone else think that February is the longest month of the year instead of the shortest?
Finding myself in dire need of something fresh and green, I decided to rob the herb cradle. Armed with scissors and strong resolve to cut anything brave enough to stick its head out, I went straight for the sorrel. Unfortunately, the slugs already beat me to it. By getting down on my hands and knees and looking very closely, I was able to find chervil and chives, still recovering from my last raid.
This was the plan. Gather as many tender green herbs as I could find. Pair them with watercress from Foraged & Found Edibles, my favorite farmers market purchase these days. Ladle hot broth over the greens & herbs, blend and add a little cream. That’s it — the perfect antidote to late winter doldrums. A soup loaded with super-fresh energy, guaranteed to put some spring back into your step.
Before launching in, I consulted with two favorite cookbooks, Sunday Suppers at Lucques & The Herbfarm Cookbook. Both Suzanne Goins and Jerry Traunfeld seem to agree that the best way to maintain the bright taste of these tender greens is to wilt them with hot stock rather than cooking them. Cooking, even re-heating, should be done very gently if you want to maintain the intense green color. It fades very quickly with heat. You can use a light chicken or vegetable broth. In either case, you don’t want to overpower the taste of the greens. If you use something zingy like watercress, it can hold it’s own. Tender lettuces will require a more delicate broth.
Spring Green Soup for 2
2 cups onion, diced (this can also include shallots, leeks, garlic)
1 potato peeled and diced
4 cups light chicken or vegetable stock
2 1/2 cups watercress (or other tender greens like sorrel)
2 T chopped chives
2 T chopped parsley
1 T chopped chervil
1/2 cup heavy cream
juice of 1/2 lemon
Melt butter in a heavy pot. Saute onions and potato for about 5 minutes until tender. Add the stock, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Cook until the potato is soft, about 10 minutes.
Place watercress and herbs in a blender or food processor. Ladle 11/2 cups hot broth over the greens. Cover and start blending at a low speed, if possible. Once the mixture is pureed, add more broth, a cup at a time, blending on high, until you have the desired consistency. Slowly pour in the cream while blending. Taste for seasoning. Add a squeeze of lemon, salt & pepper and some additional chopped herbs. If you are feeling decadent amidst all this healthy greenness, a dollop of creme fraiche never hurts.
Learn from Mother Nature and don’t be in such a hurry……….