We think of seasons: Fall. Winter. Spring. Summer… but it’s really more like transition to spring, late spring… summer… then late summer. Memorial Day feels like the pivot point, marking the start of summer; but you really never know what transition times will bring. Right now in the Bay Area, we’re having unseasonably cool temperatures and rain is predicted. For us, that’s like a blizzard coming! It’s a big deal. We may have harbingers of summer, but we’re not quite there yet.
Food-wise, I’m thinking spring soups, when you want something that whispers of late spring, honors the gorgeous spring harvest, and that’s bright and refreshing! Fresh pea soup… carrots… fennel… asparagus…cream of celery. Easy to put together, with the fresh, tender spring veggies.
Last night I made carrots. I had folks over for dinner, and I had these beautiful baby carrots from the farmer’s market. In the winter I would have roasted carrots; but a tender little spring carrot is totally different than the large, woody carrots later in the year. I cut these new carrots on an angle, gave them a quick steam, then tossed them in a little olive oil, lemon zest, sea salt, pepper, nutmeg, and a handful of roughly chopped mint. They were mouth-wateringly good!
There’s 50 million different ways you can dress them. Be playful!
When is it not? Nourishing and easy on our digestion. Simple to throw together, and so helpful to have on hand. Kids home from college? Relatives visiting? A big jar of soup helps boost lunches and fill in the cracks. Spring soups offer a lighter hug than those big robust soups, a light and silky touch versus a big bear hug! And yet, really satiating.
Saffron is one of my favorite spices to cook with. Yes, it can be a bit costly, but you really need very little saffron to get a huge bang for your buck. Here it gives a luscious, exotic taste to the carrots, which are naturally sweet. Saffron is also a visual delight; in this soup the saffron looks like monks’ robes tossed against a vibrant orange background. Consider this dish a treat for all your senses.
This is my riff on a French classic, minus the cream. Sweet peas and mint naturally complement each other with their delightfully delicate, fresh flavors. I amplify the pea’s taste—and nutritional content—by adding pea shoots to the sauté. As for texture, the sautéed buttery Bibb lettuce counterbalances the mealiness of the peas, making for a smooth consistency.
Gone are the days when asparagus was boiled until it resembled a gray Seattle drizzle. Here we roast asparagus until it becomes sweet and caramelized in a way that’s hard to believe until it’s tried. Asparagus is full of antioxidants that help in DNA synthesis and repair. In this soup, it’s paired with the nerve-protective benefits of pistachio as part of the minty, creamy topping. This is some serious yum in a bowl.