Cook in the Moment: Spring Recipe

Spring Soup with Dried Morels
Serve alongside slices of ham and warm, crusty buttered bread

 

Morel Soup

Morel Soup

This is a light and refreshing spring soup which depends on a high quality homemade broth for its flavor.  If the broth is the star, store bought chicken stock will result in a disappointing soup.  The ingredients mostly provide color and texture: brown morels, green peas, orange carrots.  Just as chicken soup treats a cold, this soup is a sure antidote for spring fever.  It makes for a lovely alfresco lunch or serves as an elegant first course at supper time.  Serves 4

 

Ingredients

a small handful of dried morels (however much you feel like buying)
hot water from the kettle
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium carrots, sliced into cute little discs
1/2 cup baby peas, frozen is fine just take the chill off before adding them to the soup
2 quarts homemade chicken stock **
3/4 cup ditaloni pasta **
1/2 bunch watercress, just the tender little leaves
1 lemon

 

Start by pouring hot water from the kettle over your morels.  Let the mushrooms relax in their bath while you prepare the soup.  Put the frozen peas in a bowl and cover them with warm water to thaw.

 

Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat.  Sweat the garlic and leeks in the oil for a few minutes, until they are translucent.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper.

 

Add the carrots and chicken stock, and coax the soup to a gentle simmer just long enough to take the crunch off the carrots.

 

Now pour the uncooked ditaloni pasta into the soup pot and simmer the soup until the pasta is al dente.
Once the pasta is cooked, stir in the peas to warm them through.

 

Remove the morels from their soaking liquid and strain the liquid of grit.  Rinse the morels to remove any grit and slice them in half if you like.  Add the morels and their juices to the soup and simmer for a few minutes.

 

Now is a good time to taste for seasoning and ask yourself, “What does the soup need?”  Sprinkle in some salt and freshly ground pepper.

 

Just before serving, toss in the watercress leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice to garnish.  A dollop of crème fraîche adds tang and body to the soup, if you feel like adding it.
**I take the River Cottage Meat Book approach to making chicken stock, as suggested by Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall.  Every time I roast a chicken I make stock with the leftover carcass in a big stock pot.  I add a couple of fresh chicken wings or a fresh chicken back, onion, carrot, celery, peppercorn, bay leaf, and parsley and cook at the gentlest simmer for about 5 hours- making sure to skim diligently for the first hour.

 

**Feel free to use more pasta than I suggest.  Just know that the more pasta you use, the more liquid it will soak up from you soup.

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