Days like today, the kind of days where I spend the majority of the day outside, always make me think of Texas. I think it’s because I spent a lot more time outdoors while living there than I did after I moved to Virginia. I only remember eating lunch outside when I was in high school there. I was also in marching band, which obviously meant a lot of time outdoors practicing. And I spent most of my evening nights in 9th and 10th grade sitting at the end of my driveway with my best friend and romantic interest, Harlan. (Though, those terms hardly seem accurate, but to call Harlan my first love feels cliché and terribly understated.)
I associate afternoons like this one with those nights in my driveway because of the deep happiness I would feel while sitting outside and for hours afterward. I slept well after watching stars and talking for hours with Harlan, and I imagine I will sleep soundly tonight after eating and drinking and talking for hours with two of my best friends in my backyard. We dined on green garlic and spinach soup, the bread I made last night, and grilled asparagus.
This soup is one I tried making a few years ago. I was confused and didn’t really understand the difference between green garlic and garlic scapes. I tried making it with garlic scapes and ended up a nice tasting, but strangely textured soup. I’ve since wised up and am able to make a distinction. I noticed some green garlic at the farmer’s market yesterday and, knowing our friends would be coming over for lunch today, I purchased some and made plans to retry the soup.
This recipe comes from Orangette. In my attempts to make the soup go a little further, I added water to the stock and used slightly more spinach than the recipe calls for (11 to 12 ounces versus 8 to 10 ounces). I didn’t have quite enough green garlic, so I used a few additional garlic cloves and two small spring onions. The end result was a little thinner and bodiless than I’d hoped, so I puréed a half of an avocado into the mix. So, the recipe below reflects my adaptations, but I think it’s worth trying the original if you have all the green garlic you need and aren’t trying to make more than a quart of soup.
Green garlic and spinach soup
Adapted from Orangette
Serves 4 as a light meal
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 lb green garlic, thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 qart vegetable broth
1 cup water
11 to 12 oz. baby spinach leaves
1 1/2 Tbsp. crème fraîche
Warm the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add all the garlic and onions and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until it is soft and translucent.
When the garlic is ready, add the stock, raise the heat a bit, and bring it to a boil. Then adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and continue to cook for about 15 minutes. Add the spinach, and immediately turn off the stove. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
Purée the soup with a hand blender or in a blender by working in batches. (Remember never to fill the blender more than a quarter or a third full, because the hot liquid will expand when you turn on the motor.) The soup should be a rich shade of green and very smooth. Add the avocado and purée again.
Return the soup to the pot, and place it over low heat to rewarm gently. Add 1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp crème fraîche (or just plain heavy whipping cream) and another pinch or two of salt. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary. You might even want to stir in a Tbsp of pesto for a bit more punch, which is what I did.
Serve warm or hot, with a drizzle of olive oil or a dollop of crème fraîche, if you like. (A bit of pesto works well, too.) We used chive flowers to garnish ours which makes for a really pretty presentation. (The flowers taste like chives.)