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If you’re lucky enough to live in places where spring vegetables were planted weeks ago, you could already have a crop of spinach or green onions or asparagus. Our past-frost date in Colorado Springs hasn’t yet arrived; it’s June 1 – June 10. For the first time, I’ve snuck a few things in early, but am nightly ready to rush out to bring pots in or run into the yard like a crazy woman throwing blankets over newly-planted beds.  (We have upcoming lows of 32 F this week, for instance.)

Dave has spent a week digging out our handkerchief front lawn, replacing the soil, and is about to replant the tiny bit grass we do try to grow.

While we wait for what will surely be late-summer or early-fall local produce (and we don’t get that much anyway right here in the Springs), we’re happy to borrow gorgeous leeks, fennel, fresh peas, spinach, and so on from other locales and stir up spring goodness–this time in a primavera soup. (A local reader tells me she’s found wild asparagus in Colorado Springs parks; I’m on the lookout!)  Perennial herbs are, of course, from our own yard and I’m about to plant the annual ones.

When we lived in St. Paul, I insisted on a locally-sourced Pasta Primavera dinner each year when the lilacs bloomed. We’d bring in the first of the rosé wine to celebrate the end of the long winter and the beginning of the green months. ( Alyce’s Pasta Primavera) Some years, Colorado springs feel like that, too, but this year the whole winter was basically spring-like. Our snows, just two or three, were heavy March-April storms that brought green grass but once gone still managed to stir our thoughts to planting and to enjoying a fast primavera soup instead of a primavera pasta dish.  Some habits die hard.

Below: our St. Paul yard full of blooming lilacs

PASTA PRIMAVERA definition

(of a pasta dish) made with lightly sautéed spring vegetables:

courtesy oxford dictionary

and

from Late Latin prīma vēra, early spring,

A happy excuse to both mark spring and skip the meat after your Mother’s Day brunch, my Pasta Primavera Soup strikes all the right notes without the heaviness of a traditional pasta and cheese meal or the long-simmering time of a winter vegetable soup.  I continue successfully on the TODAY SHOW’S Drop 10 by summer program and I ate this soup for a couple of days without ever being hungry. I did fall off the wagon a teensy bit for Mother’s Day, but gave myself the room to enjoy. Today, I’m back on the road to healthy.

Below: Emily and I at worship on Mother’s Day

The spring vegetables in the soup’s lightly-seasoned broth stand up and quietly demand attention–don’t overcook them– while the small amount of pasta fills you up with energy without making you feel like you need a nap after lunch or dinner. (Instead, go work in the garden or take a walk!)  I made this with some fresh cheese tortellini I had on hand. Do feel free to change that out for any kind of pasta you have. Vegan version made easy with substitution notes included after the ingredients.  Note to the cook:  I found fresh peas at Trader Joe’s. Frozen peas are easily subbed.

Put a little spring in your step today and try this:

PASTA PRIMAVERA SOUP (SPRING VEGETABLE SOUP WITH PASTA)

serves 4

This very quick meal features barely cooked vegetables in a simple and gently- seasoned broth. The goal is to taste the vegetables individually but happily together in a light and satisfying dish.  

  • 1 tablespoon salted butter Vegan: olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced white onion
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 1/2 small carrot, jullienned (matchstick-sized pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons torn fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups chicken broth, homemade if at all possible — Vegan: vegetable broth
  • 1 large leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and thinly sliced
  • Handful (1/3cup) each fresh green peas and chopped baby spinach
  • 1 cup fresh cheese tortellini or other pasta —Vegan–plain pasta without eggs
  • Chives and basil for garnish
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for garnish– Vegan–freshly made croutons

Melt butter over medium heat in a 6-quart heavy soup pot and add olive oil. Sauté the onion, celery, and carrot in the butter 2-3 minutes; season with parsley and just a good pinch of salt and pepper.  Let cook several minutes or until vegetables are softened; add garlic and cook another minute.  Pour in wine; let cook down another couple of minutes. Pour in broth, raise heat, and bring to a gentle boil.  Add leek and fennel; cook 3-4 minutes.  Stir in peas, baby spinach, and tortellini.  Cook another 2-3 minutes or until peas are nearly tender and tortellini is  just barely done.  Taste, adjust seasonings as needed, and serve hot garnished with fresh chives, basil, and, if desired, with just a bit of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

WINE:  Sauvignon Blanc or an American version, Fumé Blanc

{printable recipe}

why do meatless mondays?

Imagine how much carbon and resources we could save if we ate less meat. Even just eating meat one less day a year would make a difference.

For instance, if over the course of a year you:

  • Ate one less burger a week, it would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for 320 miles.
  • Skip meat and cheese one day a week with your family, it would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for five weeks – or reducing everyone’s daily showers by 3 minutes.
  • Skip steak once a week with your family, it would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for nearly three months.
  • And if the entire U.S. did not eat meat or cheese for just one day a week, it would be the equivalent of not driving 91 billion miles – or taking 7.6 million cars off the road.

As you can see, the impact of not eating meat can really add up. Join us in pledging to not eat meat once a week. If you already don’t eat meat once a week, why not try two days a week or three! You could even begin a full vegetarian diet if you’re up for it. Every little bit helps.

above info courtesy earthday.org

Sing a new song,

Alyce