I know, I know – it’s supposed to be the first day of Spring, and I mention the “W” word. But while the calendar may be telling us that Spring is finally here, the snow flurries and mid-30 degree temps are agreeing with my anemic crisper drawer: we are still in the grips of winter for a few more weeks at least.
While my brain and tastebuds are lusting after sugar snap peas, baby lettuce, asparagus and rhubarb, my larder is telling a different story: a leek, a parsnip, some slightly limp scallions and wrinkly potatoes. This list doesn’t sound particularly inspiring, illustrating why many of us who eat locally in the Northeast go a little stir crazy at this time of year: fresh vegetables and fruits are tantalizingly close, yet for a few more chilly weeks we are still working with winter vegetables; cold weather leeks and kale, storage onions, garlic and potatoes, and windowsill or dried herbs.
In searching for something new to do with the same ingredients that I’ve been cooking all winter, I found a Winter Vegetable Soup recipe in the New Basics cookbook. I made a few modifications to fit what I had on hand and ended up with a surprisingly delicious yet simple soup. And fist pumping, I proclaimed, “Ha! Take that winter! You haven’t beaten me yet.”
Adapted from Winter Vegetable Soup in The New Basics by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins
- 2 tbsp olive oil (or butter or bacon grease)
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts, well washed and thinly sliced
- 3 scallions, white & green parts separated, sliced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 celery stalks, with leaves if possible, finely sliced
- 1 medium parsnip, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 head roasted garlic, cloves coarsley chopped
- 1 tbsp raw garlic, minced
- 1 and 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- about 5 cups stock, chicken or vegetable
- 4 medium potatoes (about 1 and 1/2 lbs), washed & peeeled, 1/2-inch dice
- 2 or 3 large kale leaves (2 oz), coarsley chopped (middle rib left in), fresh or frozen
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped, plus additional for garnish
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- In a stockpot or 5-quart Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the leeks, onions, celery, and raw & roasted garlic. Sauté, without browning, until softened and beginning to be translucent, about 10 minutes. Add more oil, or a splash of stock, if the vegetables begin to stick.
- Add the stock, potatoes, tarragon and thyme. Cover and simmer over low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Use several quick pulses with an immersion blender to purée about half the soup, leaving the overall texture a bit chunky. Alternatively, remove half of the soup to a blender or food processor and purée. Then return to the pot and bring soup back to a simmer. Add the kale and parsley; simmer until kale is tender, but still nicely green, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt, pepper or additional herbs as needed.
- Serve hot, garnished with sliced green scallion tops and parsley.
- The recipe is easy to modify based on the vegetables that you have on hand. Any spicy green (kale, chard, mustard greens, spinach) will do, as will allium variety and any type of potato: sweet potatoes would make a nice twist.
- Using olive oil & vegetable stock makes a delicious vegan version.
- This soup is thickened with potato and time: simmering time to reduce the soup to the thickness you desire. You can certainly stir in butter or cream at the end if you wish, however I find this soup so flavorful that I don’t think it needs it.
Refrigerated up to 1 week. Frozen for up to 6 months.
Winter into early spring.