YUM!!! I love all sorts of seasonal, springy, green soups. Do you have a favorite spring soup?
Got the idea for this soup while shopping at my local farmers’ market this past weekend. Was chatting with the market manager, and she mentioned her fondness for watercress and asparagus soup. Enough said, sold. I’ll take a bunch of peppery watercress and asparagus (from the great people of Mountain View Farm). It really doesn’t take much more than that to win me over. Am easily swayed by a good bowl of soup — spring, winter, summer, or fall — one of my all-time favorite things to eat. After whipping up a batch, I totally agree with her sentiment — words to the effect about the pepperiness of the watercress balancing out the subtle sweetness of the asparagus.
This is another one of those dishes that showcases the best of what spring has to offer. A few seasonal vegetables — watercress, asparagus, and garlic scapes — potato, onion, shallot, a little olive oil and butter are easily transformed into an elegant and satisfying bowl of soup. Love the creamy, velvety texture of the soup; the potato and butter contribute to its creaminess (there’s no added cream). Not that there’s anything wrong with cream. Rather, wanted the subtle flavors of the asparagus and watercress to shine, without getting lost or overwhelmed by the addition of cream.
You can jazz up this soup with an assortment of toppings, or just keep it simple. The soup is tasty enough as is; the toppings, including a poached egg and Parmesan crisp, are just an added bonus.
If you decide to add a poached egg to your soup, you can save time by poaching it in advance. Just place the egg in an ice-water bath after poaching to stop the cooking process, drain, and keep chilled in the fridge (a couple of days max) until you are ready to serve the soup. The poached egg makes for a nice presentation — the striking, vibrant orangey yolk against the velvety green soup.
Happy spring (cooking)!
A few quick words on garlic scapes…
This is the time of year when you’ll find garlic scapes, which are the green shoots of the garlic bulb. When young, they are extremely tender with a delicate, mild garlic flavor.
You can make garlic scape pesto or hummus, pickle them, eat them raw, grill them, make scape butter, add them to a soup or stirfry, or top them on pizza…just a few ideas to get you started. Will definitely be picking up another bunch or two of garlic scapes this weekend.
Also sauteed a few spring purple onions and added them as garnish given their striking shade of purple (tasty too)…along with a small handful of onion microgreens I have growing on my windowsill.
Watercress and Asparagus Soup with Garlic Scapes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling over the finished soup
1 bunch (~12 ounces) asparagus, chopped
3 garlic scapes or green onions, chopped
1 shallot, sliced
1 small to medium (~5-6 ounces) potato, sliced thin (on a mandoline)
1 small bunch (3-4 ounces) watercress
2 1/2 cups water
Couple pats of butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Poached eggs (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the asparagus, garlic scapes or green onions, shallot, and potatoes, and saute a few minutes, until the asparagus is just tender. Add the watercress, water, and butter, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the potato is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender jar and blend until very smooth. Taste and reseason with salt if needed. Garnish with a few sauteed or raw asparagus tips and a few raw watercress leaves. Drizzle with a little olive oil, if you so desire. Serve immediately.
Note: A high speed blender (such as a Vitamix) is essential in order to obtain a silky smooth texture.
If serving with a poached egg, place a poached egg in the center of each bowl. Ladle the hot soup on top.