Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Simmer Fresh Spring Vegetables into Savory Soups

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Simmer Fresh Spring Vegetables into Savory Soups

Article excerpt

IN SPRING, soups showcase the colors and tastes of the season. After the hearty meat and bean soups of winter, we welcome lighter fare.

Many classic French soups that are popular in spring evoke country images. Soupe a la paysanne (peasant-style soup) is made of carrots, turnips, leeks, celery and fresh peas. Soupe cultivateur (cultivator's soup) has sliced potatoes instead of peas and is flavored with onion instead of celery. Consomme printanier (springtime consomme) is composed of carrots, baby peas, asparagus, green beans, sorrel and lettuce cooked in chicken broth and is garnished with fresh chervil.

Some of the vegetables in these recipes are available in winter, too, but the springtime renditions of the soups are prized because they're made from young new vegetables instead of vegetables from storage. To make savory springtime soups quickly, it's useful to have a flavorful soup base on hand. All you need is 10 to 15 minutes to cook the vegetables in the broth. They should be tender and not crunchy but do not need to be very soft. As a soup base, meat or chicken broth is traditional, but for springtime I prefer the more delicate taste of vegetable broth.cscohmv For quick soups, it's easiest to use prepared broth. Good-quality canned broth is widely available, and some markets carry frozen stocks as well. If you're using a light broth or even water, you can have a tasty soup in short order if you follow these time-honored tips from professional chefs: Include onions, carrots, thyme and a bay leaf. These aromatic vegetables and herbs will create an appetizing soup in a hurry. To this base, add one or several other diced fresh or frozen vegetables: asparagus, peas, potatoes, leeks, green beans, corn, lima beans or spinach. Just before serving, finish the soup with chopped fresh parsley, chives or other fresh herbs. These springtime soups are not pureed so that the colors and tastes of the vegetables will remain distinct. They often are not thickened, either, so that their consistency will be light. Precise proportions aren't terribly important when you're making these soups. As a general rule, cover the vegetables generously with broth. You'll need 1 to 2 cups of liquid per serving. If you find the soup too thick, add more broth before serving. Even lazy cooks agree that vegetable broth is easy to make at home and that it demands little time. Frugal chefs know it costs next to nothing. Simply save trimmings of vegetables when you prepare them for other meals. Use the ends of carrots, onions and zucchini, the tough bottom inch of asparagus stalks, the dark green leaves of leeks, the leafy tops of celery and the stems of mushrooms and parsley. Keep the trimmings in bags or containers in the freezer and add to them whenever you have more. …

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