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Spring Pea, Spinach and Fennel Soup ©2014 La Domestique

June is the height of spring, when the garden really starts producing. You can see pink radish shoulders poking out of the soil, voluptuous bunches of salad greens and perfect pea pods dangling from delicate trellised vines. It’s an exciting time for a gardener, harvesting the first bounty of the year and bringing it straight to the table. The veg is still alive and full of nutritious goodness. You see, once vegetables are picked they begin to deteriorate, losing precious vitamins and minerals. By the time they reach the supermarket and languish on the counter for days these vegetables are only a shadow of their former selves. You may be trying to do the right thing and eat healthy fresh produce, but it’s just not the same as freshly harvested produce. The missing ingredient: life.

Life gives more than just nutrients, it also gives flavour. Once picked, vegetables rapidly lose their sweet and spicy flavours. They quickly wilt, going from perfectly crisp and juicy to dry and shriveled. Making the effort to source the freshest vegetables ensures your meals are truly nourishing and especially delicious. The life in the produce is magic on your plate– it makes a meal more satisfying, more special.

 

How do you stay in touch with the seasons if you don’t have a garden?

 

You go to the farmers market.

This is where you find veg that’s just been pulled from the ground hours ago. And when you bring it home and cook a simple meal– magic!

Vibrant green and bursting with fresh flavour, this soup is a celebration of spring in a bowl. Sweet peas, liquorice-flavoured fennel, spinach and refreshing mint make a delicious medley. The soup is rich in vitamin C, iron and folate. Fennel and mint promote healthy digestion and soothe the stomach. With every spoonful antioxidants and fibre are reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. As the saying goes, you can pay the farmer or you can pay the doctor– who’s more expensive?

 

Take Action: Visit your local farmers market this weekend and taste the difference in freshly harvested produce– even if it’s just a simple bag of spring salad greens!

 

For more ways to celebrate the season, go to the home page and sign up to my La Belle Vie newsletter to get access to exclusive content.

 

Spring Pea, Spinach and Fennel Soup

Serves 2 generously, or 4 as a petit amuse bouche to begin the meal

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 leek
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 150g peas, fresh or frozen
  • 50g spinach
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 lemon wedges

Trim off the top and root end of the leek. Cut the leek in half lengthwise and then thinly slice it. Rinse the sliced leek to remove any sand. Prepare the fennel by chopping off the base and stem end. Slice the bulb in half lengthwise and cut out the hard core in the centre of each half. Dice the fennel. Peel and chop the garlic.

Sautee the leek, fennel and garlic with a pinch of salt until soft, 5-10 minutes. Add 1 pint water, bring to boil, add peas. Cook for 3 minutes, until bright green and tender. Add spinach and remove pan from heat. Transfer the soup to a blender, adding the mint, and puree until smooth. (Do not put the lid on blender filled with hot food, instead, cover top of blender with a towel while blending.) Thin with a little water if necessary. Wipe out the pot and pour in the pureed soup. Heat on the stovetop and season to taste with salt. Serve warm (or chilled) with a squeeze of lemon juice.