The familiar call is back. Somewhere caught between nightfall and dawn, when the sky takes on shades from the rainbow and silence is deafening, that`s when the noise starts. Although it`s not noise as we come to think of it, rather a soft whisper of activity in the forest out back. First the birds and then rustling through the grass and shrubs. Sometimes it`s the family of deer and other times it`s a breeze touching everything in its way. It is the first non-visible sign of spring`s resurgence. Poetic, calming and welcome. Even overdue.
With the above seasonal temperatures we`ve been trying to enjoy the great outdoors more so than usual. Long walks with the dog, biking down the paths that were rail tracks at one point and weave between the city and county, enveloped on each side by farm land and open fields. Anything at all that we can do to be outside. And with the weather brings other added benefits. The local market is now setting up outside and with it comes produce picked from their farms and brought to my kitchen.
Last visit there I stopped to pick up some ingredients to make a soup fitting the weather and season and available goods. Heirloom carrots, baby potatoes, cauliflower, asparagus, leeks and beans. I combined that with some fresh stock and some lovely pesto made with some greens I also picked up. And let me tell you.
My wife and I had returned from one of our long bike rides when I went to the kitchen to get this soup going. The great thing about amazing locally sourced produce is it doesn`t take a lot to make a great recipe. The proof is in the ingredients. So I chopped the vegetables, added in the stock and let it simmer away. It wasn`t long at all before we were sitting outside around our small table enjoying this soup. Spring in a bowl.
We`re also down to the final couple of weeks before we take off for Mexico. That means changing things up and eating as healthy as possible to prepare us for swimsuits again. And with recipes like this we`re on the right path. Until then, I have a bunch of mornings like the ones before. And the sounds outside to wake us.
From my kitchen to yours,
Early Spring Minestrone Soup
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1.5 litres, vegetable stock
- 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 2 leeks, cut in half, washed and sliced (white and light green parts only)
- handful of cauliflower florets
- 2 cups baby potatoes, medley, cut in half (any colour will do)
- 4 heirloom carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (any carrots will do)
- 1 zucchini, cut in four lengthwise and finely chopped
- 1 can of hearty beans, drained and podded (I used broad beans)
- 12 asparagus stalks, woody ends removed, finely sliced with tips left whole
- generous pinch of sea salt & finely ground pepper
- 6 baguette slices
- 1é4 cup pesto
- 1é4 cup goat cheese, room temperature
- good pinch of broccoli sprouts to top
- Bring the stock to a boil while you start on the rest of the ingredients.
- Add the oil to a large stockpot and place over medium-low heat. Add in the garlic and leeks and slowly cook for 10 minutes, trying not to brown them at this point. Add in the potatoes and increase the heat to medium-high and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add in the rest of your vegetables and the stock. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Season the soup.
- Top each slice of baguette with some goat cheese, pesto and a pinch of broccoli sprouts. Ladle the soup into a bowl and top with one crostini.
- Serves 6.