Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

I’m not a very patient person. It’s what makes me infinitely more suited to the farmers market than the garden. I’m working on it, but it’s admittedly harder to get inspired by something that won’t come to fruition, literally, for months.

That being said I think I’ve achieved a good balance this year. Saturday was the second farmer’s market, I stocked up on enough asparagus to make a super easy vibrant green soup to chase away Sunday’s blustery early spring feel and more rhubarb and strawberries to start stockpiling batches of my new favorite compote. (thanks Shea).

I also managed to spend upwards of 30 dollars on seedlings for our much improved communal garden, despite exhibiting an unusual level of self control buying herbs to plant. Managed to contain myself to just buying lavender, lemon balm, spearmint, tarragon, African blue basil and thyme to join the thriving rosemary and parsley in the herb bed.

I think the herbs are the best way to combat my impatience with gardening. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for tomatoes. I love tomatoes. But after last year’s blight plague on the east coast stunted our success I don’t know if I can take the heartbreak again. I needed a solid plan b. Or multiples.

That’s why I love our farmers market and the proximity of DC to farm country. This year 1660 also joined a CSA that involves visiting a farm once a week. (As a Vermonter who's dwelled in cities for the last decade I find this part especially exciting.) The farm share we have includes pick your own opportunities on top of a weekly share. Plus the farm does some really neat work to keep their program accessible for those with no disposable income. I’m sure I’ll wax on about the CSA quite a bit this summer. Our first pick up is next weekend, and I’ll miss it due to a family obligation but I can’t wait to see what we get.

I think the balance of surprises from the CSA and what comes out of the yard, with the support of the far more dependable offerings from the farmers market should make for a delicious summer. Asparagus soup recipe below--it's kept me a happy eater all week. Keep in mind I don’t really measure when I cook…. Consider all these numbers in the “ish” range.

Herbed Asparagus Soup

(heavily improvised and adapted from Eating Well to match existing refrigerator contents)

NOTE: this makes a large quantity of soup. I appear to have inherited a family gene that makes it impossible for me to cook for less than an army. The skill serves me well on Hobart, but obviously adjust measurements according to quantity and taste.

2 medium leeks or onion, chopped

2-4 cloves garlic, minced

2lbs asparagus (trimmed and cut into inch long pieces)

1 and 1/3 cups green peas (frozen or fresh)

4 cups chicken broth

4 small to medium sized potatoes (peeled and diced)

4-5 T finely chopped herbs: dill, parsley, chives (any combo you like, i went heavy on the dill).

½ C crème fraiche

S&P to taste

T or 2 of lemon juice

Saute leeks/onion in olive oil until tender but not browned. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, until fragrant 1 minute or so. Add chicken broth and potatoes, simmer until potatoes are tender. Add asparagus and peas and cook until just tender but still bright green. Remove from heat, stir in herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Puree soup (I used an immersion blender which if you don’t own you really should. Fantastic kitchen toy.) Add crème fraiche and incorporate well using immersion blender. Bring soup back up to temperature. Just before serving add lemon. Top with herbs and Greek yogurt or more crème fraiche if you like.