This little vegetable soup celebrates the market not only in spring but again in the fall. I have made this vegetarian recipe from my farmers' market produce both in early June and in September—minus the asparagus. The high-altitude coolness of northern New Mexico is kind to turnips, peas, and sorrel. Leek trimmings, asparagus stems, and pea pods are great stock ingredients, so you might as well make a little stock while you cut your vegetables.
This light, clean soup is best served as soon as it has finished cooking while
everything about it is fresh and new. You can enrich it by adding a pea-size lump of butter or a spoonful of crème fraîche to each serving or simply leave it as it is. I sometimes cook a handful of dried Italian tortellini and add three or four to each bowl, which makes it more filling.
Makes about 5 cups
Handful of snow peas or edible-pod peas
Stock vegetables: 1 celery rib, 1 large carrot, 1 garlic clove, handful of parsley, handful of leek greens, asparagus stalks, all chopped, optional
9 or 10 small fresh turnips (about 3⁄4 pound or 2 cups)
1 tablespoon butter
1 bay leaf
2 bushy thyme sprigs or 1⁄4 teaspoon dried
1 cup leeks, sliced in 1⁄4-inch rounds and rinsed (about 4 small leeks)
4 green garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 asparagus spears, peeled and the top 3 inches sliced off
1⁄ 2 pound fresh peas, shelled, or 1⁄ 2 cup frozen
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon or chervil
1 If you want to make a stock, bring 5 cups water to a boil. Add the pea pods to the water as it's heating along with the other stock vegetables. Add a few pinches of salt, bring to a boil, then simmer while you peel and cut the vegetables for the soup. Neatly peel the turnips with 5 or 6 even strokes of a paring knife. Halve them and cut each half into thirds. Cut the radishes into halves or quarters, depending on their size.
2 Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat with the bay leaf and thyme. Add the leek and garlic, cook for 2 or 3 minutes, then add the turnips and radishes. Season with 3⁄4 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook over low heat for 4 minutes while you strain the stock. You should have about 1 quart.
3 Add the stock to the turnips, bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, until the turnips are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the asparagus during the last 5 minutes, the peas during the last minute. Divide the broth and vegetables among four bowls and sprinkle over the parsley and tarragon.
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Excerpted from Vegetable Soups From Deborah Madison's Kitchen by Deborah Madison. Copyright 2006 by Broadway. Excerpted with permission by Broadway. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.