Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick
I have heard hearty soups like this called "peasant food". I can't think of higher praise, because to me the term embraces simplicity, flavor, and creativity with ingredients. A meal in a bowl like this is perfect for a cool spring night, and makes terrific use of tender broccoli stems.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups tender broccoli stems, coarsely chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups asparagus, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked potatoes, coarsely chopped
2-4 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Salt to taste
Toasted almonds to garnish (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat, and cook the broccoli stems, the onions, and the red pepper for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the asparagus and cook for another three minutes, stirring, or until the broccoli and asparagus are tender-crisp.
Add the potatoes, the chicken stock, the pepper, and the salt. Process with an immersion blender (or in batches in a countertop blender) until smooth and thick. Heat in the stock pot to a simmer, and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Distribute to serving bowls, garnishing with toasted almonds and a grind of black pepper.
Tip: Use only tender broccoli stems. A simple way to test them is to try a stem raw, or cut it with a paring knife. If it's crunchy, use it. If it's woody, or hard to cut with a knife, banish it to the compost.
Tip: This soup is a terrific destination for leftover cooked broccoli or asparagus. Feel free to vary the proportions of these key green ingredients. All asparagus? Great. All Broccoli? Yum.