Waste Not, Want Not
You paid for it. That mound of empty pea pods, asparagus stubs, and leek tops that piles up as you shell the peas, lop off the spearheads, and trim back the greens. It could easily weigh as much or more than the tender parts you bought them all for. We have to accept that fact when it comes to artichokes. But this lot is just tough, not tasteless. So unless you're in greater need of compost fodder, why throw away your money when you can make something wonderful and immediately edible out of all this instead? We call it "Creama Green"...
"Cream of Green Spring Soup", continued:
...To create a silky smooth soup, you'll need a food mill for extracting the liquid flavor out of the cooked fiber. One with both coarse and fine-holed removable disks. If you don't already have a sturdy food mill, it's a reliable investment offering year-round dividends. Starting right now with this Cream of Spring Green and moving on to other seasonal purees. Like leek and potato, carrot, pepper, squash, shell bean, mushroom, spinach, beet or winter green. Tomato sauce come summer and apple sauce in the fall. Sieved either equally smooth or more textured. That's a lotta soups and sauces. And if you're concerned about the word "cream," that refers more to the mouth feel than the ingredient. I add just enough to help bind rather than actually enrich this elegant soup.
So why not turn your "garbage" into gold? You'll be impressed with yourself. Your resourcefulness and good economy. Perhaps enough to even splurge on a soupcon of cream. And if you tire at the mill like a workhorse circling round and round again, then claim that as your upper body work for the day. Because it's so much more satisfying to exercise in the kitchen than the gym. And the aroma of sweating onions is infinitely more appealing.
Casual Recipe for Cream of Green Spring Soup
an onion or two
English pea pods
salt & pepper
fresh herbs: mint, thyme, chives and/or parsley
sour cream or creme fraiche
- In a large heavy skillet over low heat, sweat sliced onions in butter, covered, until translucent (about 15 minutes).
- Rinse the leeks, asparagus and pea pods before cutting into 1 inch pieces. [See notes below.] Measure lightly pressed down (that's how much stock you'll need to use) and then stir them into the onions. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, measure out the stock plus 1 Tb. rice per cup used, and bring them both to the boil in a large heavy pot. Cover and simmer until the rice is falling apart tender (about 30 minutes).
- Stir in the braised vegetables and simmer, lid askew, until tender but not grey or lifeless (about 15 minutes).
- First put through the coarse disk of a food mill to press dry and discard the fibrous bulk. Then pass through the fine disk to further refine. Scrape off the bottom of the disks at both stages to make sure all the puree is saved for the soup.
- Return the puree to the pot, stir in 1 Tb. heavy cream per cup of stock used and bring to the simmer.
- Taste carefully for seasoning and serve chilled or piping hot, garnished with chopped fresh herbs and an optional dollop of cultured cream.
and Play with:
Green Veg: The point is to use whatever you have on hand. From equal parts pea pods and asparagus to all of one and none of the other. Of course, this soup would also be delicious made with all the more tender parts as well. Sugar snap peas could be substituted for English, and if you want to intensify the green scene, toss in some spinach just to wilt and brighten right before you puree the soup.
Stock: If you don't have enough, you can dilute it with water.
Rice: I like the flavor of white basmati for this purpose, but any will do. If you have an immersion blender, you can puree the cooked rice and stock before adding any of the vegetables to create an even smoother background liquid.
Herbs: Particularly in the spring, I love the refreshing lift of mint on top, but tarragon could be used instead for a classic French twist in another direction.
Bon Appetit! Kay
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