Garlic Scapes & Potato Soup

GarlicScapeSoup

 

My best friend brought over a bunch of garlic scapes. If you have never had them, they are the early spring shoots off garlic plants and they have this delicious and so very delicate oniony-garlic flavor. A favorite way to cook them is roasting them in the oven, but I swear my downstairs neighbor still has the heat on so I did not want to heat up the apartment by turning on the oven. Since I love soup just about more than anything, I decided I would try come up with something that would respect the delicate flavor of the scapes. Lots of googling found several recipes mostly for garlic scapes and white bean soups. There are no white beans in the pantry so that’s out. There were several recipes with potatoes in a pureed soup. I think garlic scapes are so pretty, that I decided to just come up with something on my own and see what happens.

I heated 1 TBSP of olive oil in my 2 quart sauce pan. I chopped the scapes into pieces about 1.5 inches long and tossed them in to sauté. I added 1 tsp of dry tarragon. I would have used fresh, but I didn’t have any. I also added some salt and pepper because you always want to season in layers so that the flavor builds in each ingredient you add. I had the heat up just a bit above medium because I wanted the scapes to brown and caramelize just a bit to bring out their sweetness.

As soon as I had nice caramelization, I added 3 cups of chicken broth (made by boiling the heck out of a roast chicken carcass and all the onions that it rested on while roasting) and 3 potatoes, cubed into just under 1 inch bites. I added a dash of salt and pepper and cooked until the potatoes were tender. It is essential that you cut the potatoes all the same size because you want them to all be done at the same time. Otherwise you will have underdone and mushy potatoes which is really not appealing. If you want a vegan version, use vegetable broth instead.

So this was the moment of truth, would the scapes be too fibrous as they are? Would I have to puree to deal with the texture? Well, I am happy to report they maintained their integrity, not turning to mush, while also being tender and toothsome without a hint of being too fibrous for soup. The flavor was a bit mellow, so I added the juice of one lemon and another dash of salt and pepper and it was done. And it is amazing.

The deepest flavor is a rich oniony-garlic flavor from the scapes with high notes of tarragon and lemon. It is a truly stunning soup that is made even more special because scapes have such a short window during the year. So get to the store now, they could be gone in no time.

This made 6 generous servings. You could make a vegan version by using vegetable broth. 

 

Cucumber, Pea Shoots, Grapefruit Salad

Pea Shoots, Cucumbers & Grapefruit

Is there anything better than a big bunch of pea shoots in the spring? This one bunch has been enough for seven meals. Four salads, two meals of soup and I have some left for salad tomorrow. Yum!

For today, I chopped up the tops of the pea shoots (I used all the bottoms in the soup yesterday) and scattered them on a plate. I put some almonds in a dry pan on high heat and let them toast while I prepared the rest of the salad. Then I peeled half a cucumber and after it was peeled, continued with the peeler to slice off thin slice after slice and scattered them on the pea shoots. Then I supremed one grapefruit and spread it around the outside. I chopped the toasted almonds and tossed them on top. Adding some salt and pepper, I sprinkled some balsamic vinegar on top as well as a bit of walnut oil and served.

I love the mix of hearty toasted almonds, the light cucumber, the tangy sweet grapefruit and the hearty pea shoots all harmonized by the balsamic vinegar and oil. It was a delicious and light supper for a hot day.

 

Pea Shoots & Bacon Soup

Pea Shoots & Bacon Soup

Pea shoots are the essence of spring time and I have been enjoying several salads with pea shoots, but I wanted to figure out a way to use the bottom half of the shoots, those tougher, larger, fibrous stalks. I decided to make a pea shoos pureed soup.

In my 2 quart pan, I melted 1 TBSP of butter on medium low. I chopped up half of a medium yellow onion and sautéed them in the butter. I crushed and chopped up two cloves of garlic and added them and let them cook. Then I chopped up 3 slices of bacon into small pieces and let them cook with the onions and garlic.

While they sautéed, I chopped up 4 red potatoes into 2 inch cubes. Once the bacon was done,, I added 1 quart of chicken broth (from the roast chicken I made last week) and the chunks of red potatoes. I put a lid on the pan and let them cook until fork tender. You can use a potato masher to mash them up a bit.

While the potatoes cooked, I rinsed the pea shoots in cold water and chopped up all but the tender top shoots into 2 inch long pieces or so. Add to the soup and let cook.

Remove from heat and let cool. Then puree until smooth. Because the pea shoots can be fibrous, after the soup was pureed, I poured it through a strainer so the resultant soup was smooth with no bits of pea shoot fibers or stalks remaining. I cut a lemon in half, and juiced it into the soup. Adding a bit of salt and pepper to taste and it was done, just needing a bit of reheating before serving – garnished with some tendrils of pea shoots.

This makes 8 servings. The soup is bright and delicious. The lemon juice is absolutely what makes the soup so delicious – hot or cold.

Asparagus Diablo

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I threw this together in just a few minutes and it was delicious. I decided to name it Asparagus Diablo after an alliance member in an MMO I play, but cherries do make it red, so it sort of fits.

I took 6 asparagus and sliced them vertically, then I sliced them horizontally in fourths. The bottom ends, I cut in half again so all the pieces were about the same size in order to cook evenly. I began heating water with a dash of salt. When it came to a rolling boil, I added the asparagus and let cook for 1 minute – just to parboil them. I did not want them softened and mushy, but retaining a bit of their texture. You could say they were al dente.

Meanwhile, I cut three paper-thin slices off a red onion and chopped them into small pieces. I heated 2 tsp of olive oil in a small pan and sautéed the onion. While the onion cooked, I pitted 10 cherries and cut them into quarters. When the onions were tender, I added the cherries and cooked on medium heat, smashing the cherries with my wooden spoon. When they were softened and liquefying, I added 1 tbsp  or so of balsamic vinegar and stirred it all together and let it cook for about 30 more seconds.

By now the asparagus was done, so I drained it and placed in a bowl. I poured the  cherry vinaigrette on top and added a dollop of goat cheese.

This made one serving. The asparagus tasted like spring. The cherries were a delicious mix of sweet, sour and tangy and the sweetness of the cheese balanced everything.

 

 

 

 

Pea Shoots with Red Onions and Radishes

Pea Shoots, Radishes and Red Onions

 

I took a handful of pea shoots and chopped off the tops, for the bottom half, I tore the leaves off, leaving out the stems. I laid them on a plate. With a mandoline, I sliced about 2 TBSP of red onion – very thin. I also sliced two gorgeous radishes thinly. I sprinkled the onions and radish slices on the pea shoots. I grated about 2 tsp of parmesan on top.

In a small bowl, I mixed 2 tsp of olive oil, juice from 1/2 a fresh lemon, 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp of dijon mustard. I added some cracked pepper, stirred and poured on the salad, tossing the dressing to mix it in.

This made a delicious, light salad with lots of bite. The sweet tang of onions, the fresh heat of radishes and the bright tanginess of the lemony, mustard  vinaigrette made for an explosion of flavor balanced by the delicious earthiness of the pea shoots.

 

Chicken Vegetable Soup

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I saved the bones from the roast chicken and used them to make a rich chicken broth. I have a pasta cooking kettle, one of those huge kettles with an insert full of holes for straining water. I never make enough pasta to use it, but I do like it for making soup and in particular, for making broth. I just put all the bones, herb and mire poix i there and when the broth is done, I can lift it out and have beautifully clear broth. Since I have explained how to make broth before, I will go forward from there.

I put about 1 TBSP olive oil in the bottom of a sauce pan. I added 1/2 of a leek (chopped), 4 mushrooms (cleaned and chopped), 1 stalk of celery (chopped), some celery seed, thyme, salt and pepper and sautéed until done. Then I added 3 cups of broth, 1 chopped carrot. After 10 minutes, I added 1 chopped yellow squash, 10 brussels sprouts cleaned and cut in quarters. After about 5 minutes I added about 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley.

This was a rich flavorful soup with a lot of chicken flavor. Very hearty and thick with vegetables in every spoonful. It made 4 large bowls of soup – each one delicious.

 

 

 

 

Lemon & Garlic Roasted Chicken

Roast Chicken

This is an easy, delicious Roast Chicken recipe I use. After the chicken is roasted, I removed the meat and skin and use the carcass and the onions in the bottom to make a chicken broth for soup.  The roasting primes to bones so that the broth is tasty and rich.

To start, preheat your onion to 425° Fahrenheit.

Take one big yellow onion (or two small) and slice onions about 1/4 inch thick and cover the bottom of your roasting pan with the onions.

Wash the chicken with cold running water. Remove giblets and neck bone from the inside and set aside to use for your broth. Pat dry and lay on top of the onions. They will soak up the drippings as the chicken roasts and be rich in flavor.

Take 4 garlic cloves, peel them and crush them using the side of a knife. Cut a lemon in half and shove two cloves in each half of the lemon.

Normally I take a TBSP of butter, mix it with some thyme, salt and pepper and rub it all over the skin, but I am short on butter, so I used 1 TBSP of bacon fat I had saved instead. In actually added a real Wow! bit of flavor to the roasted chicken’s skin.

Roast in the oven about 1.5 hours or until the inner temperature is 160°.

The lemon and garlic infuse the meat with a delicate flavor. And frankly, after using saved bacon fat to grease the outside of the skin this once, I know I will use it again. It adds a rich, deep flavor. The onions are so delicious it will be hard to save them for the broth, but it’s worth it. Still, you should sneak one slice of onion just because.

This makes multiple servings, not only of roast chicken, but leftover chicken for salads and casseroles. Additionally the carcass will produce 2 -3 quarts of chicken broth.