I love seasonal food. Especially after a long Chicago winter, there's nothing quite like spring veggies to wake up your soul. Unfortunately in Chicago, sometimes spring arrives and teases us for a few days, then disappears for a few weeks until temperatures make it absolutely impossible for spring to stay away. I made this last week when it was nice & sunny but approximately 40 degrees outside. Why not enjoy the flavors of the season despite the chilly temps?
4 T. butter
1 large leeks, cleaned & chopped
1 white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
3 new potatoes (I used white), diced
2 large carrots, sliced into rounds
1 bunch fresh asparagus, chopped into half-inch pieces & tough ends discarded
4 c. water
4 c. chicken broth (or vegetable)
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 pinch Dill
2/3 c. barley
9 oz. baby spinach
1 c. cream
1/4 c. white wine or sherry
Parmesan cheese, optional.
In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add leeks, onion, & garlic; saute until tender. Add mushrooms & saute until tender and buttery. Add potatoes, carrots, & asparagus, and saute 2 minutes.
Pour in water & broth, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add Dill & barley, and stir well. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20-30 minutes. Stir in spinach until wilted. Stir in cream & wine, and heat 5-10 minutes more, stirring often. Grate Parmesan cheese over the top & serve with warm, crusty bread.
- I served this with a risotto for a Friday dinner. This was perfect for Lent because it's meatless, but it's also lovely because it incorporates so many spring vegetables.
- Next time I'll add 2 cups cream, because I loved the creaminess of this soup and I really wanted more.
- Soup is really hard to photograph, FYI. There's no real way to make it look pretty.