After a warm February and snowy March, it’s officially spring ­­‑ a time when chefs eagerly await tendrils, shoots and other tempting ingredients for seasonal soups.

“It’s all young. It’s all new. It’s all fresh,” said executive chef Tim Courtney of EatNic - Urban Farmhouse Eatery & BYOB in Paoli. “It is the break in the winter doldrums. We’ve been staring at the same color palette since November.”

As the landscape greens, enjoy his equally vibrant spring pea soup with mint, morels and crème fraîche.

“It’s one of my favorite vegetables. It’s one of those vegetables I look forward to every year,” Courtney noted. “We don’t just cook seasonally. I call it ‘micro-seasonally.’ There are transition moments.”

While he searches for “what’s coming out that week,” so does chef Jenny Young, who partners with her son, Morgan, in The Red House Catering and Love in a Bowl, Soups from The Red House - a Kimberton-based delivery service.

“It’s a wonderful time of the year,” she said. “Take advantage of what’s out there.”

Young teaches a springtime soup class at Cooking Spotlight in Phoenixville next month. Her top picks: watercress, asparagus, leek and baby turnip.

“When the turnips are very small and new and about the size of a golf ball, they’re absolutely delicious,” she explained. “I wouldn’t make it with big turnips. It is definitely a spring small-turnip soup.”

Green, of course, isn’t the only color of spring. Personal chef Lynn Lampe Lindquist of Cook on Call suggests a beautiful orange-hued Thai carrot and ginger soup.

“I think it’s the color that really strikes me as ‘wow,’ vibrant, and should we use the term? Pretty,” she described. “If I want to brighten the color a little bit, I’ll add some turmeric to it.”

And that’s not all.

“I always finish it with a little coconut milk, so it’s not cream-based, but it does have a little richness,” added Lindquist, also an instructor at Delaware County Community College and Valley Forge Flowers.

Soups are “so versatile, and they’re very satisfying,” she said. “Sometimes we have that chilly spring when you still need a little comfort food.”

Thai Carrot and Ginger Soup


2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 large onion, small dice

1 shallot, small dice

1-inch slice of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1½ teaspoons curry powder or Thai red curry paste

1 teaspoon salt

3 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water

2 pounds carrots, peeled, chopped in small dice

¼ cup coconut milk

1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice


Place a stockpot on medium heat. Once the pot is warmed, add the oil. Add the onions and shallots and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until becoming translucent. Add the spices and salt to the onions and stir to coat them evenly. Add the stock or water and the carrots. Bring to the soup to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes or until carrots are tender throughout. Add coconut milk and stir until blended well. Add the lemon juice and stir to blend well. Blend the soup with a blender stick or do it in batches using a blender. If you do it in batches, let it cool first for a bit. I leave my soup a bit lumpy, but you can blend it until it’s completely smooth too.

Notes: Using the Thai red curry paste will make soup a bit spicy. Adjust to your liking. Adding ½ teaspoon of turmeric will do well medicinally and add color. I like to use rainbow carrots, just not the purple. Using vegetable stock or water will make this vegan. Serves 4 to 6.


Spring Pea Soup with Mint, Morels & Crème Fraîche


2 pounds shelled peas, blanched and shocked (reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)

1 medium shallot, minced

2 ounces soft butter

1/8 cup olive oil, extra-virgin

2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock, hot

8 morel mushrooms

4 leaves of mint

4 ounces of crème fraîche

Salt and white pepper


Start with a large sauté pan over moderately high heat. Sauté the peas and shallots in butter and olive oil and season aggressively with salt and pepper. Set the heat to high. As soon as the peas are hot and the shallot becomes fragrant, add the hot stock. (If using canned broth, omit the salt from the previous step.) Bring up to a boil. Allow to simmer no more than 1 minute. Immediately transfer into a high-powered blender and puree until very smooth. (Depending on your peas, you may need to adjust the consistency with a little more stock or water)

In the same pan you used before, sauté off the reserved peas, morels and mint until soft and fragrant. Pour a generous portion into decorative bowls. Divide mushroom, mint and pea garnish evenly between each bowl and drizzle with crème fraîche


Asparagus Leek Soup


6 small leeks

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3 shallots

3 cloves garlic, minced

Large bunch of asparagus trimmed (about 1 1/4 pounds)

2 large handfuls baby spinach leaves, washed and drained

4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (plus extra for finishing if needed)

Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Freshly ground white pepper and sea salt


Prepare asparagus. Remove and reserve asparagus tips. Cut off woody tough ends of stems and peel about 1 1/2 inches of remaining stem. Chop stems into ½-inch pieces. Set aside. Clean and chop leeks, white and light green parts. Peel and chop shallots. Heat butter in heavy pot, add leeks, shallots and a good pinch of salt and cook over moderate-to-low heat, stirring occasionally until tender. Add garlic; cook until softened. Do not allow to brown. Add asparagus stems and 4 cups broth. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook about 5 to 7 minutes until asparagus is tender but still bright green. Stir in spinach, cook 2 to 3 minutes until wilted. Season to taste with pepper and salt. Set aside to cool.

Bring to a boil a cup of water in a small pan, add asparagus tips and a pinch of salt. Turn down heat. Simmer 1 minute. Drain well and cool in ice water. Blend soup in batches until smooth. Add more broth if needed to make consistency you prefer. Taste for seasoning. Serve with asparagus tips sprinkled on top. Drizzle with a few drops of olive oil if you like. Serves 4 to 6.


Baby Turnip Soup


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 pounds baby turnips, washed and diced

1 medium leek or medium onion, diced

2 bay leaves

2 to 4 cups water, chicken or mild vegetable broth

Sea salt & fresh ground white pepper

½ cup half & half

Big handful of turnip greens

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons tamari


Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add leeks or onion with a good pinch of salt and cook gently. Stir often until vegetables are translucent; do not allow to brown. Add turnips, bay leaves and 3 cups broth and season with salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until turnips are very tender. Take off heat and remove bay leaves. Add cream. Put in blender and purée until very smooth. Add more broth if needed to achieve desired consistency.

In a small pan, melt butter with tamari and whisk gradually into the pureed soup. Taste and adjust seasoning. Pick over turnip greens, choosing the greenest and best looking, wash and chop. Bring small pot of water to a boil and blanch greens briefly until just tender. Drain well and stir into the soup, reserving a few leaves for garnish. Serves 4 to 6.




1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced small

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

¾ cup celery, carrot and onion, chopped fine

½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 cup whole milk

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Chopped parsley


Put potatoes into heavy pan (large enough to hold all the finished soup) with cold water just enough to cover. Add a big pinch of salt, bring to a boil and cook until very soft. Take off heat, do NOT drain. Mash potatoes with their liquid with a potato masher. Set aside.

In heavy pot, heat butter and oil, sauté onion until pale gold, add diced carrot and celery; cook, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly softened. Off heat, add the entire contents of pan to the potatoes. Put on medium heat and add milk, broth and grated Parmesan. Cook at a low but steady simmer, stirring often, about 5 to 8 minutes, until soup thickens a little and comes together. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add more broth and milk if the soup is too thick for your taste. Off heat. Stir in chopped parsley and serve with more grated Parmesan. Serves 4 to 6.

Note: It is REALLY important to use freshly grated genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano for this delicious, gentle soup.


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