I am back after a week of visiting my family on the East Coast. It seems a bit more like Spring there with the azaleas in full bloom, the rhododendron flowering and herbs growing robustly in the garden. Here we seem to be hanging onto colder weather with occasional warmer than normal temps that trick you into thinking summer has arrived. Oh well, we carry on.
I was thinking when I posted the recipe for Roasted Chicken w/ Ramps and Potatoes , that would be the last of the wild leeks until next year but yesterday I saw those little beauties in our natural foods coop and again at a farmers market. My daughter in Northern California said she never sees them near her but they must be around as I saw a post from an organic farmer in Napa Valley speaking of them a few days ago. So search further, dear girl.
Since the cooler weather agrees with them and they are still available, I must give you one more recipe before they are gone for the season. Let me preface this by saying you can make this with regular leeks throughout the year as they are always available, but when possible, be sure to take advantage of the seasonal offerings.
This is how it goes.
RAMP & POTATO SOUP Serves 6
5 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 bunch ramps or 3-4 leeks, washed well and chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
3 medium carrots, diced (peel if desire but not essential)
Pinch of cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
5 cups rich chicken stock or vegetable stock, if desired
1 ½ c milk or cream
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Unsalted butter, 1-2T
Fennel fronds, for garnish
- Peel potatoes and cut into medium dice.
- Trim root end of the ramps and roughly chop the white and green parts, or if using leeks, wash thoroughly and chop well discarding tough greens ends.
- Peel (if desired) and dice carrots.
- Cut leaf end from the fennel, trim and core bulb, cut in half and slice thin. Reserve fennel fronds for garnish. Cook these vegetables in the stock about 1 hour until they are very tender.
- Add the milk or cream, cayenne or pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Let soup slow simmer for another ½ hour or until potatoes begin to fall apart and soup begins to thicken. Do not boil.
- Take off the heat and puree with an immersion blender or in small batches in a regular blender or food processor.
- Return to burner and stir in a tablespoon or two of butter. Heat through on low heat. Serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil (use your good quality finishing oil for this) and garnish with the reserved fennel fronds.
This is a silky soup that is bursting with flavor. If you like a more rustic texture, you can skip the step of pureeing but I really enjoy the smooth mouth feel of a pureed soup. I serve it with a fresh crisp seasonal salad, such as arugula dressed with a vinaigrette and crusty bread. This makes a hearty, healthy, delicious Spring offering. Remember, if you can’t find ramps, you can use their domestic cousins, the garden variety leek.
I will close by saying, I have never met a potato I didn’t like, but for this preparation, I use the good old reliable russet as they cook soft and flaky and their ability to fall apart lends itself well to this soup.
Spread the love one dish at a time until we meet again. Now let’s all go outside, tend to our gardens and do a dance for the much-needed warmth of the sun. What’s growing in your garden this year?