I’ve really become obsessed with buying everything at the farmers market – Michael Pollan would be proud of me. I haven’t been to the supermarket in weeks! (OK, that’s not entirely true – I’ve been there to buy yogurt and bananas. I suppose I could make my own yogurt, but growing bananas is totally out of the question.)
Spring onions are one of the things that are in season and abundant right now, so of course I had to buy a few bunches of them last weekend. Spring onions aren’t scallions (although they are frequently, and erroneously, labeled as such) – they’re young onions that are pulled before the onion bulb gets a chance to mature. They taste sort of like scallions, but they’re a little more pungent and onion-y (obviously, because they’re young onions!).
Because spring onions vaguely resemble leeks, I thought to make a soup out of them, similar to vichysoisse. I actually really dislike vichysoisse, mostly because it is served cold and, furthermore, is usually really bland. This spring onion soup, however, is a vivid shade of green as compared to its pallid counterpart made with leeks, and it tastes much brighter and fresher, courtesy of the addition of the greens added at the end. The potatoes give it body and a rich flavor, so there’s no need to add cream – although a drizzle on top is a nice touch. Add some cheesy and garlicky croutons for crunch, and you have a wonderul – and totally easy to make – spring soup.
Spring Onion and Potato Soup with Garlic-Parmesan Croutons
For the soup:
3 bunches spring onions, washed well and dried
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
4 medium sized yukon gold potatoes
4 cups water
2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
For the croutons:
3 thick slices (¾” - 1” thick) of ciabatta, Italian bread, or any other artisan bread
1 large garlic clove
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Large pinch of salt
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (this can be omitted to make the croutons vegan)
Make the soup:
Pull the dark green leaves off the spring onions and set them aside. Trim off the very end of the bulb and thinly slice the bulb and main stalk (it should be entirely light green) – you should have about 4 cups. If any of the stalks have buds at the ends, cut them off, leaving about 2” of stem, and reserve them.
Melt the butter in a large pot set over medium heat. Add the sliced spring onions, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and a pinch of pepper, and cook until very soft, about 8 minutes. If they start to brown, lower the heat.
In the meantime, chop the potatoes into large chunks – you should have about 4 cups. When the spring onions are softened, add the potatoes, water, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of pepper. Cover the pot and simmer until the potatoes are very soft and fall apart somewhat when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, coarsely chop the reserved dark green parts of the spring onions.
When the potatoes are soft, remove the pot from the heat. Add 4 cups of the chopped greens and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well, cover the pot, and let it stand for 5-10 minutes to soften the greens.
Puree the soup in a blender in batches. (Make sure to remove the center of the lid and loosely cover it with a folded-up paper towel. Start the blender on low and gradually work it up to the highest speed to avoid splashing.)
Serve the soup warm. Top each serving with the reserved buds, a drizzle of cream, and a handful of croutons.
Make the croutons:
While the soup is cooking, heat oven to 350 F and place a rack in the middle of the oven.
Cut each slice of bread into ¾” cubes and set them aside. Peel and smash the garlic clove. Put it in a small bowl with the olive oil and heat it – either in the microwave on high power for 90 seconds or in a small saucepan on the stove. Strain the oil into a large bowl, add the cubed bread and salt, and toss well.
Spread the croutons in a single layer on a large baking sheet and bake them until they are barely browned on the edges, about 7-8 minutes.
Return the croutons to the bowl, add the grated cheese, and toss well to combine. Return the croutons to the baking sheet and bake until lightly golden brown, about 7-8 minutes.
Store the cooled croutons in an air-tight container.