there are times where i crave kale or chard the way some people crave their morning coffee. it happens maybe 3 times a year, but it's serious. like i need it. i've figured that it's my body's way of telling me i need a boost of iron or something, and since i've convinced that shoving a plate of rich, dark, leafy greens in my mouth will cure whatever ails me, that's just what i did a few weeks ago when i felt myself coming down with a cold. instead of kale though, i grabbed spring greens: lots and lots of spinach, plus some (apparently fresh-picked) leeks and asparagus, and instead of potatoes to thicken the soup, two sunchokes (jeresalem artichokes). i had a simple plan: make soup, drink soup, feel better. but then…
the tiny, tight asparagus tips looked too perfect to be lost in a blended soup, and i remembered how good sauteed sunchokes taste, so i decided to add a little extra step in order to have my soup and enjoy these ingredients a little more too. i set the asparagus tips and a bit of the diced sunchokes aside to fry up for a garnish for my soup, along with my favourite seed crackers. it only took a few minutes and i did it while i was letting the soup simmer.
the soup did me good but so did treating myself to the little extras. the soup was earthy, full of flavour and substance, and the garnish, added tasty crunch too. what better time to treat yourself to a nice meal than when you're sick? however, i've made myself and others this soup 3 times since then, and it's much, much better eaten in good health.
1 large leek, well cleaned and sliced (white and light green parts only)
1 head of spinach, tough stems discarded, leaves torn (about 5 cups)
2 bunches of asparagus, stalks chopped, tips set aside
2 medium (2-inch) sunchokes, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly crosswise
1 large shallot, finely diced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
6 cups of water
maldon salt and crackers for serving
heat 2 tbs of oil in a large pot over medium high heat. saute the leeks, garlic, asparagus stems, and half of the sunchokes for about 5 minutes, or until the leeks are softened. add the spinach, 1 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp of pepper, the bay leaves and sage and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. add the water, cover and bring to boil. then reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
meanwhile, slice any large asparagus tips diagonally so that all of the pieces are about 1 inch long. heat 1 tbs of oil in small skillet over med heat. add the remaining sunchokes and saute, stirring, for 4-5 mins until they start to brown and soften. add the asparagus tips, shallots, 1/2 tsp of of salt, and 1/4 tsp of pepper. cook for 2 more minutes or until the asparagus turns bright green and the sunchokes are cooked through. they will remind you of fried potatoes but they will remain crunchier. remove from heat.
returning to the soup, fish out the bay leaves, and turn off the heat. puree the soup in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender. taste and adjust seasoning as needed. if adding more salt etc. return to heat and simmer again for 5 minutes.
when the soup is ready, serve into bowls and top with the sauteed vegetables, crackers and a sprinkle w/ maldon salt. serve hot.