Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gardening for Garnish Garlic Scape & Soup

Here's a snapshot of Elizabeth's parents nursery back in Virginia during high Spring. We were visiting at the end of their growing season and as always, on the hunt for interesting ingredients and flavors to take back to Philly.

This is the main growing greenhouse - you can see the tables filled up with pots of herbs and the odd ornamental plant. Earlier in the season, this house was choked with blooms, covering nearly every surface.

Growing just outside the greenhouse, at the edge of the field, was a huge patch of garlic with numerous garlic scapes poking out from the leaves.

We grabbed a knife and cut off several garlic scapes to take back home with us - having missed alot of the Spring veg at the market, these scapes offered up a remote opportunity to put in a few Spring-inspired dishes before Summer arrived.

We also harvested nearly 3 pounds of fresh asparagus from the garden - we settled on fixing a soup with all the garden offerings.

Back home, we slit the scapes down the center, reserving the pungent bulbs for another use.

Then I flash-fried the scapes into a crispy pile.

I sliced the tips off the asparagus and halved the spears. The rest of the asparagus I boiled until slightly soft in a broth of vegetable stock, along with a diced single small potato, then blitzed the mix a food processor.

The trick to keeping this soup velvety smooth was to push it through a fine-meshed strainer - here you can see the resulting liquid and solids have been separated.

The finished soup was dressed with three or four butter-poached shrimp and then topped with the crisped garlic scapes.

Another variation of the dish used fried bits of thick bacon, fennel fronds, a dollop of Greek yogurt and the asparagus tips to season the soup. Served with a crunchy bread topped with Pecorino cheese, it was a hearty Spring soup plucked straight from the garden.

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