Hope springs eternal this time of year: As young buds sprout on tree branches, tender green leaves and grass extend shyly toward the sun, and children dye eggs for Easter celebrations, the days stretch a little longer as each week brings us closer to summer. In many parts of the country, early spring is hardly distinguishable from late winter, but even if cloudless, 70-degree days are far away right now in some places, snow is often replaced by rain and even a little bit of sun can warm a 45-degree afternoon.
I was in Boston earlier this week to help the competitor.com team cover the marathon, and the chilly, wind-swept days and occasional sprinkle reminded me of how spring is a transitional time when the weather can shift drastically, often in the span of only a few hours. Depending on my direction, running along the Charles River and the Chestnut Hill Reservoir sometimes felt like I was going to be swept away by the bone-chilling wind. I wished my hotel room had a kitchen where I could whip up a pot of my spring green soup, a light and nourishing way to warm up after a cold, early spring run.
Spring Green Soup
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 medium leeks, trimmed and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 boxes (32 oz) of low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (or you can make your own, but I like this brand)
2 bay leaves
1 Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind, optional
1/2-1 teaspoon salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or you could use black)
1 cup dried porcini, spinach or cheese tortellini
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends removed and cut into 1/2-inch bits
1 cup frozen sweet peas
3 handfuls of baby spinach
2 stalks scallions, diced
Parmigiano-Reggiano, optional, for serving
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, add leeks and celery and saute for about 5 minutes, or until leeks are wilted. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add stock, bay leaves, cheese rind, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. Remove lid and add dried tortellini; cook about three minutes shy of package directions and add the asparagus, peas, spinach and scallions to the pot. Stir so the spinach wilts. After about 4 minutes, remove pot from heat and serve.
Sabrina Grotewold is a senior editor for Competitor. Christened the Kitchen MacGyver by her husband, she’s determined to persuade people to eat their veggies.