Spring is still springing, and I can’t stop thinking about green, and bright things, like sunshine. I realized last week that I hadn’t had nearly enough asparagus this spring, and was fixing to just get some and roast it, when I met some friends at a local watering hole with nibbles on the menu, saw a chilled asparagus ricotta soup on the menu and promptly failed to order it. I mean...what was I thinking? Huge fail. I should probably also add that sometime in the past month I also developed an overwhelming, inexplicable, and insatiable craving for ricotta. Double what was I thinking, right?
Not ordering it was probably the best thing I did all month. Why? Because I had to have it, guys. I just had to. You know how it is! I promptly started recipe plotting in the background of my life, and realized that this recipe would be a real winner. It is super easy. It is super quick. It is super simple. It is (probably) super healthy, being comprised primarily of vegetables. And, amigos, it is a super celebration of a lot of the things that are the most delicious parts of spring: the green colors, the bright flowers, the sunshine, the spring vegetables, the crisp and warming air, the ricotta (okay, fine, this one is an every season thing).
Prep probably takes longer than cooking (if you have maybe just tripped over a root while on a run, skinned your hand, and rage cried your pain out in a public place; this will, I assure you, slow things down considerably), but the rest of the process is probably a 30 minute cooking and blending window. If you are a fast chopper, you’ll probably disagree with the previous statement. All in all, I give it an over under of about an hour well spent on the road to springtime delight. The best part? This soup tastes great hot or cold. That is to say, it is a rare soup that tastes the same hot or cold. It just depends on how you want to eat it! Options!
I have only two other tips besides be careful out there runners; roots can be real witches with a b. Tip the first is to start with 5 cups broth, and add a bit more, up to 6 cups if you feel you need it for the soup to blend well, or want it to be more liquid than solid. Tip the second? I used store bought ricotta. If you use fresh ricotta, I have a sneaking suspicion this will blow your mind. If you are able to use fresh, and then are able to form a sentence, do tell me if my suspicions are sound. Bueno?
Asparagus, Ricotta, and Lemon Soup
|Asparagus, Ricotta, and Lemon Soup|
2 Tbsp butter
3 leeks, greens removed, cleaned and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
⅓ cup white wine
5-6 cups vegetable stock
2 lbs asparagus, cut into small pieces (reserve and roast some tips for garnish)
8 oz spinach
½ cup whole milk ricotta
zest of 1 whole lemon
juice of ½ lemon
salt and pepper
Ricotta, roasted pine nuts, roasted asparagus tips, cracked black pepper
|Don't forget to roast |
(450 for 4-6 minutes)
1. In a large Dutch oven or Le Creuset, melt butter over medium heat.
2. Stir in leeks and cook 4 minutes, stirring often.
3. Stir in garlic and cook 4 more minutes, stirring often.
4. Add wine to the pot, stir, and let most of the liquid cook off. When this happens, add 5 cups of broth, and bring to a simmer.
5. Add asparagus to the pot, stir, and let simmer for 4-6 minutes, until the stems are bright green, cooked, and yet maintain a slightly firm crispness.
6. Add spinach to the pot, and cook 3-4 more minutes, covered.
7. Uncover, and stir the wilted spinach into the mixture. Remove from heat and let stand 2 minutes to cool just a bit for handling purposes.
8. Stir in the ricotta and lemon zest.
9. Using an immersion blender, thorougly blend the soup. You may find that in order to do so, you need to add the extra cup of broth, or you may not need it at all.
10. When the soup is well blended, stir in the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.11. Serve hot, or let cool overnight in a fridge to serve cold. Garnish with either a dollop of ricotta or some peppery Parmesan, and roasted pine nuts and asparagus tips. Good luck not smearing more ricotta on some crusty bread!
Book Club Pairing:
I'd serve this at a book club for a book celebrating the spring and warmer months. Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer comes to mind. Not only is the cover pretty much the same color as this soup, but there are whole swaths of this book gorgeously dedicated to describing the changes in nature indicating that spring and summer are nigh. (This will also go very well with a Vinho Verde, if this is a book club for grown ups.