Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ramp Soup

The outdoor farmer's market made its triumphant return to Capitol Square this past weekend, and I couldn't be more pleased to have my favorite grocery store back. It may not be quite back to the bounty of summer, but the scope has definitely expanded from it's winter incarnation at the Madison Senior Center, only a couple of blocks away.

Spring has started primarily with a bounty of delicious greens, but I was also able to pick up some shiitake mushrooms, hothouse cucumbers and tomatoes, and a few bunches of ramps. Never heard of ramps? They're also commonly known as spring onions, wild leeks, or wild garlic, with a pungent flavor somewhere between garlic and onions, and are gathered in the wild from South Carolina clear up to Canada. Possessing wonderful characteristics of both leeks/onions and garlic, this wild vegetable is an underutilized flavor bomb and a great way to mix up your spring menu with a new ingredient. The addition of butter and Parmesan cheese adds just enough richness to give this soup some body; the Parmesan flavor comes through clearly in this simple soup, so use a quality cheese. Pair it with a side salad and roll or sandwich for a not-too-heavy lunch or dinner rich in the fresh flavors of spring. The flavor intensifies a bit as the soup sits overnight, making for a delightful lunch the next day if you have any leftovers.

Ramp Soup
from Gourmet, via Epicurious
serves 4

1 pound ramps
1/2 sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Trim roots from ramps and slip off outer skin on bupounds if loose. Cut green tops from ramps and coarsely chop enough greens to measure 3 cups (reserve remainder for another use). Thinly slice ramp bulbs, including pink stems.
2. Cook ramp bulbs, onion, white pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add wine, then boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, until evaporated completely. Add broth and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until onions and ramps are very soft, about 20 minutes. Stir in ramp greens and boil 1 minute.

3. Working in batches, purée soup in a blender until very smooth, about 1 minute per batch (use caution when blending hot liquids), then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heatproof bowl, pressing hard on and then discarding solids. Return soup to cleaned pot and bring just to a boil. Whisk in cheese and butter until smooth. Season with salt.

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