I feel like I am coming out of hibernation! Heavy coats are being replaced by lighter jackets, the temperature is rising above thirty-something, and there is a hint of green under the melting grey and brown snow! I know that I'm celebrating just a bit early, and I still shiver when I go outside, but it feels good somehow.
The warmth of the sun mixed with the nip in the air has me longing for everything "spring;" eggs, asparagus, strawberries, artichokes, and much, much more! I don't think the milder southern seasonal changes have ever drawn such intense longing in me. There, the desire revolved more around specific calendar dates; Easter provoked the desire for asparagus or Mother's day a longing for brunch. But now, I find myself craving spring fare, just for the freshness and newness of it all.
Of course we are in the midst of spring semester, and there is not much time to go and just enjoy these changes. But a grocery trip and an hour in the kitchen make for a good study break, and so that is just what I did yesterday! I made this soup, which pronounces "Spring is Here!" in both its ingredients and its name. It is fresh, chock full of spring vegetables, but still has a welcome warmth.
French Spring SoupAdapted from Allrecipes
4 tablespoons butter
1 pound leeks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
3 new potatoes, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 bunch fresh asparagus, cut into 1/2 to 1 inch slices
1 quart water
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 pinch dill
1/3 cup barley
9 ounces fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup sherry (optional)
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks, onion, and garlic, and sauté until tender. Add the mushrooms and sauté for two minutes. Add the potatoes, carrots, and asparagus, and sauté for two more minutes. Add the water, broth, salt, pepper, dill, and barley. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the spinach, half and half and sherry; cook over low heat for about five more minutes.
Sprinkle fresh grated parmesan cheese over the soup, and serve with crusty bread.