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This soup can be put together in a very short time, and uses some of the best produce of spring: tender baby spinach, wild mushrooms (if you can find them) and ramps, those slightly garlic-flavored spring onions. If you don't have access through a farmer's market or enlightened supermarket to these fresh spring vegetables, the soup is still very good with the plainer, tougher, full-sized spinach, domestic mushrooms, and leeks or onions. And, don't be bound by the parameters of this particular recipe; use it as a base for whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand, can gather in the woods, or can find at the farmstand.
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) butter
1 1/2 cups (about 4 1/2 ounces) sliced spring onions, "rare ripes" (scallions), ramps or leeks*
2 cups (about 8 ounces) thinly sliced white onions
3 1/2 cups (10 ounces) sliced mushrooms (domestic or wild; morels, if you can find them)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3 cups (two 10 1/2 ounce cans) chicken broth
2 cups (16 ounces) milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound (3 to 4 packed cups) chopped fresh spinach; if you're using fresh baby spinach, there's no need to stem or chop it
1/2 cup (4 ounces) light cream or evaporated milk (optional)
*Use all of the white part and about 2 inches of the green part or, in the case of leeks, as much of the green as is tender; don't use the tough parts.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and saut the spring onions or leeks, onions, and mushrooms until the onions are translucent and the liquid from the mushrooms has mostly evaporated.
Stir in the flour, and cook gently for several minutes. Stir in the chicken broth or water a little at a time; if you keep stirring, it won't become lumpy. Add the milk, and bring to a boil. The liquid will thicken just a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste, the chopped fresh spinach, and cream or milk, if desired. Bring soup to a simmer, and serve it immediately, so it retains its bright green color. Yield: 8 cups, about 6 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (1/6 of soup, 1 1/3 cups, 365g): 203 cal, 11g fat, 8g protein, 18g complex carbohydrates, 3g dietary fiber, 35mg cholesterol, 359mg sodium, 641mg potassium, 290RE vitamin A, 17mg vitamin A, 2mg iron, 173mg calcium, 196mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XII, No. 3, Early Spring 2001 issue.