“My last refuge, my books: simple pleasures like finding wild onions by the side of a road, or requited love.” I could not help but repeat these words from Tracy Letts’ brilliant opening to the Pulitzer prize winning play, August: Osage County as I walked by stacks of ramps in the Union Square Farmer’s Market the other day. In a way, I was experiencing the pleasure of finding wild onions on the side of the road, the road just happened to be Broadway. Now if I could just find requited love…
Spring is such a brilliant time at the farmer’s market. I picked up heaps of greens and things I haven’t seen in a while like ramps and sorrel. Back home, I looked through one of my favorite cookbooks of the moment, Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison. It’s such a great book for instances like these, when you shop with your eyes and heart picking up whatever moves you and then later try to figure out what to make of it. I found a recipe for a spinach, ramp and sorrel soup. It’s a delicate, but distinct soup that is earthy and herbaceous from the spinach and lemony from the sorrel. It tastes like the delicate fleeting moments of spring and the color green.
SPINACH SOUP WITH RAMPS AND SORREL adapted from a recipe by Deborah Madison.
The original recipe called for lovage, which I didn’t use so I went heavier on the sorrel. Sorrel is strong and lemony, so use less if you are not a fan. The soup is great topped with toasted pieces of bread doused with olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. Swirling in yogurt and some diced avocado is another lovely way to go. You could use pepper to season the soup, but I think it’s nicer without it, the taste is so distinct.
1 bunch of ramps (about 2 cups), chopped. Reserve ½ cup chopped white stems for broth.
½ lb. spinach, large stems removed
a heaping handful of sorrel leaves
2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
3 cups ramp broth
toasted bread or breadcrumbs (optional)
thick yogurt or cream (optional)
diced Avocado (optional)
freshly ground pepper (optional)
Soak and rinse ramps, spinach and sorrel to get the dirt off. Cut off the root ends of the ramps and chop, reserving some of the white stems. Remove large stems from the spinach and chop.
Bring 3 cups water to boil and add the reserved white stems from the ramps. Simmer about 20 minutes to make a broth.
Add coconut or olive oil to a soup pot and warm over medium heat. Add ramps, cook for 2 minutes, and then add spinach and sorrel and a couple pinches of salt. Sauté for a minute. Add most of the broth (reserve some broth and you can add it back in when you blend the soup to make it as thick or thin as you like) and simmer for 10 minutes. Let the mixture cool slightly, and then puree it in a blender, tasting for salt and adding more broth if you like.
Serve topped with toasted breadcrumbs and a drizzle of olive oil. Or add chopped avocado and swirl in some thick yogurt or cream.