Monday, May 2, 2016

Ramps & Asparagus Soup

Ramps -- "allium tricoccum" - a member of the onion family (sometimes called wild leeks)

 -- are available for only a few weeks in Spring. If you live anywhere near woods in the Northeast U.S.,  Canada or as far down as North Carolina -- you might try foraging for them, or if not, hopefully you have a farmer's market near you that carries them. - typically at obscenely high prices.

I was lucky enough to get some for the second year in a row from my neighbor Insung, who has a friend who forages for them in New York's Catskills Mountains. 

Both the broad leaves and the bulbs can be eaten and they've got a distinctly pungent taste - somewhere between an onion and garlic. In the photo below, you see the leafy ramps on the left, but they're missing the bulbous part. That's because my friend's friend picked them, leaving the bulbs in the ground in order to allow for more growth for next year. In many areas, ramp mania has gotten so out of control, that local woods have been decimated of the ramps there. So be thoughtful and judicious if you decide to hunt and bring some home.

For this soup, I used a few scallions and asparagus too, adding one potato to help thicken it.

Chop everything into smallish pieces, including the potato.

After I cut off the fibrous ends of the asparagus, I boiled them in some water, to enrich the soup with the vegetable stock. You can make this completely vegetarian, but I added some chicken broth.

There are plenty of other ways to enjoy ramps too, including this ramps pesto I posted a couple of years ago.

They also pair beautifully with eggs, as I found out when making a frittata with mushrooms, ricotta cheese and ramps.

And I loved them on a flatbread too, with mozzarella, ricotta cheese and baby portabello mushrooms. Have you tried ramps yet? What are some of the ways you've enjoyed them?

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Ramps and Asparagus Soup

2 T. olive oil

a few scallions, sliced

1 bunch of ramps, sliced

a bunch of asparagus, roughly sliced

one medium potato, cut into small chunks

4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)

a large handful of fresh Italian parsley

salt, pepper to taste

1/4 cup heavy cream, optional

chives or croutons to sprinkle on top

Saute the scallions, asparagus, and ramps in the olive oil until softened. Add the potato chunks and the rest of the ingredients except the parsley and the cream. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook for 15 –20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. Put everything in the blender and puree. (Be careful to cover the lid with a dishtowel or it may splatter.) Add the parsley and whir for a few more seconds. Add heavy cream if desired. Garnish with drops of cream and a sprinkle of chives on top .

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