Traditional recipes

Green Pea Soup with Tarragon and Pea Sprouts

Green Pea Soup with Tarragon and Pea Sprouts


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Ingredients

  • 2 16-ounce packages frozen petite peas, divided (do not thaw)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced shallots (about 11 ounces)
  • 4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, divided
  • Plain nonfat yogurt, stirred

Recipe Preparation

  • Place 1 cup peas in microwave-safe bowl; set aside. Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until golden and almost tender, about 7 minutes. Add remaining peas, 4 cups broth, and 2 tablespoons tarragon; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and boil until flavors blend and peas are tender, about 7 minutes. Cool slightly. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until completely smooth. Return to same saucepan. Bring to simmer and thin with more broth by 1/4 cupfuls, if desired. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon tarragon. Season with pepper.

  • Cook reserved 1 cup peas in microwave until warm, about 1 minute.

  • Ladle soup into 6 bowls. Drizzle lightly with yogurt. Sprinkle whole peas over and garnish with pea sprouts.

Recipe by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen,

Nutritional Content

One serving contains the following: Calories (kcal) 217.6 %Calories from Fat 19.8 Fat (g) 4.8 Saturated Fat (g) 0.7 Cholesterol (mg) 0.3 Carbohydrates (g) 33.1 Dietary Fiber (g) 7.5 Total Sugars (g) 11.4 Net Carbs (g) 25.5 Protein (g) 9.3Reviews Section

Spring Pea Soup

Celebrate the green arrival of April with this simple, flavorful pea soup. Tarragon, mint, and parsley sing Spring! Spring! Spring!

While lemon zest and scallions give this easy soup a lift. Delicious hot or cold, enjoy for an at-home lunch, side dish, or a lovely first course. In the unlikely event of unused leftovers, wring the soup through two layers of cheesecloth for a delicate pea broth that is amazing with fish!

Spring Pea Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

Peas are, in my book, the only vegetable that is better frozen than fresh. That is doubly true in this soup, where the petit pois (a.k.a. baby peas) make this blended soup perfectly smooth and light. If you can’t find baby peas, make sure to push the soup through a sieve after blending and discard any pea protein left in the sieve once it has reached a clay-like consistency. This recipe is vegan made with vegetable stock, as below, but it also great with chicken stock if that is your preference.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 scallions, whites and light green portions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
  • 20 ounces frozen petit pois, a.k.a. baby peas (2 packages)
  • 2 1 /2 – 3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

Directions

Stir in frozen peas, dried mint, and enough vegetable stock to just cover the peas. Turn burner to low and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the peas are just cooked and tender.

Once the peas are cooked, turn off the burner and stir in lemon zest and fresh parsley (reserving a pinch of each per serving, for garnishing). Taste for seasoning, and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the peas and most of the stock into a blender and blend on the highest speed until as smooth as possible, adding more stock to thin the soup as needed. If you want a really velvety soup, pass through a fine mesh sieve or a chinois.


The Ultimate Spring Produce Guide: What’s in Season & How to Use It

Need a spring vegetable guide to what’s in season? Consider this your spring produce cheat sheet—complete with when you can expect to find specific fruit and veggies in stores and markets, and some of our favorite ways to use each one.

Springtime means giving winter staples the boot and dedicating dinnertime to those tender young things now appearing at greenmarkets and farm stands (though you may need to place your orders online this year as social distancing forces creative solutions to crowded shopping spaces).

We look forward to these spring vegetables (and herbs, and fruits) every year, for the new start they represent and for the fact that they’re all so vibrant and delicious. This year, maybe more than ever.

Spring Produce Season Calendar

Below, an A-Z of our favorite spring vegetables and when they usually appear (and exit, after all too brief a stay)—of course, it all depends on where you are, what the weather’s doing in any given year, and so on, but in general, these periods are when each ingredient is at its peak.

  • Artichokes (Oct. – May best between Mar. – May)
  • Asparagus (Feb. – Jun. best in April – May)
  • Baby Carrots (May)
  • Chives (May – Jun.)
  • Fava Beans (Mar. – May)
  • Fennel (Oct. – May)
  • Fiddlehead Ferns (April – May)
  • Green Garlic (Feb. – Jun.)
  • Kohlrabi (Feb. – Apr.)
  • Morel Mushrooms (Mar. – Jun.)
  • New Potatoes (Apr. – Jul.)
  • Nettles (Jan. – Jul.)
  • Pea Sprouts or Pea Shoots (Mar. – May)
  • Peas (Apr. – May)
  • Radishes (Feb. – May)
  • Ramps (Apr. – Jun.)
  • Rhubarb (Apr. – Jun.)
  • Snow Peas (Apr. – Jun.)
  • Strawberries (Apr. – Jun.)
  • Tarragon (Apr. – Aug.)
  • White Asparagus (Apr. – Jun.)

Spring Produce Guide

Get more in-depth info on each precious bit of produce you’ll see this season, including ideas on how best to use them while you can (for even more inspiration, check out our favorite veggie-heavy cookbooks and vegetarian cookbooks too).

And see our guide to storing fresh vegetables, fruit, and herbs to make sure they last as long as possible.

Artichokes

These edible thistles contain an acid called cynarin that makes everything taste sweet after eating them. They are admittedly time-consuming to prepare, but lovers of artichokes (like Catherine de Medici, for one) know it’s worth it. See our Basic Steamed Artichoke recipe and pair the tender leaves with a classic aioli or any other dipping sauce you fancy.

Asparagus

You are probably well aware by now that “asparagus pee” is a thing, but did you know China is the world’s top asparagus producer, or that it takes three years to grow from a seed? While it’s common practice to snap off the woody ends, you can usually simply use a veggie peeler to shave off the tougher layer on the bottom. Tender spring asparagus is delicious raw in a salad, simply roasted, baked into crisp “fries” with panko and parmesan, or starring in various other preparations, like our Asparagus Frittata recipe.

Baby Artichokes

These small, tender artichokes grow lower down on the stalk than their more mature brethren. They just need to be trimmed a bit, and can be eaten raw if sliced very thinly, or halved or kept whole and then cooked. So if you find preparing full-size artichokes a pain, keep your eyes peeled for these little guys. And try them in our Braised Baby Artichokes recipe, roast them for a nuttier flavor, or fry them for a crisp snack.

Baby Carrots

The first carrots were cultivated in Afghanistan, and were more purplish-red than orange. You can find them in various colors from pale yellow to dark purple at farmers’ markets and some grocery stores these days, with the darker colors being sweeter. But true baby carrots are not the same thing as those orange nubs you buy in bags those are just whittled-down chunks of larger carrots with clever marketing behind them. Look for intact baby carrots in spring, and braise, steam, or roast them whole for a lovely presentation. If you scrub them well, there’s no need to peel off the skin.

Burstenhaus Redecker Vegetable Brush, $5.95 at Sur La Table

Beets

Beets are more strongly associated with fall and winter, but these hardy root vegetables are also available in spring, when they’re small and sweet. If you don’t normally like their earthy flavor, milder spring beets may change your mind. And when they’re super small and tender, you can shave them raw in salads (but they also still take well to traditional preparations like our Pickled Beets recipe). Saute the beet greens after a good washing too, and serve them as a side dish, in a pasta main course, or in a savory pie.

Chives

One of the first herbs to emerge from the ground, chives are not the same as scallions or green onions, though they are a member of the allium family and have that characteristic pungent smell and taste. They’re more delicate and sweet than raw onions or garlic, though, and are great snipped into salads and sprinkled on top of all sorts of things, from pasta and soup to risotto, quiches, tarts, and roasted veggies. Blend them into chive butter, biscuit dough, and salad dressing too. Basically, use them everywhere. You can (and should!) also eat their flowers. Chives freeze and rot easily, so store them in the warmest part of the refrigerator.

Open Kitchen Herb Shears, $10 at Williams Sonoma

Fava Beans

Favas were the only bean known to Europe until the discovery of the New World. They are a truly spectacular treat, but like the artichoke, they’re high-maintenance. You have to split open their pods, of course, and then pinch each individual bean out of its skin as well. But the reward is tender, bright green, sweet, spring-flavored bliss. If you have really small favas—like, pea-sized—then you can get away with leaving them in the skin. Or try this trick from The New York Times: roast larger favas and then eat them like edamame, popping them from their skins as you snack. Otherwise, we like them in warm salads like this one with chanterelles and poached eggs, or a version with green beans and radicchio, or in a Fava Bean Puree.

Fennel

Seksak Kerdkanno / EyeEm / Getty Images

This pale green and white bulb with tall stalks topped with feathery fronds has a clean, crisp bite when eaten raw as in our Shaved Fennel and Strawberry Salad recipe, but can also be cooked into mellow, silky perfection—like in our Braised Fennel recipe. The plant produces the licorice-like fennel seed you may know from mild Italian sausage, but the fennel bulb itself has a far fainter anise flavor (so don’t be afraid to try it if you think the seeds taste too strong). Depending on where you live, you may find fennel at its best in fall (and its season actually ending in spring), but in cooler climates, it makes its first appearance as the weather turns milder. Be sure to use the fronds as a garnish for all your fennel dishes.

Fiddlehead Ferns

The unfurled fronds of young ferns are a popular ingredient in Indonesian cooking, but they’ve also become a hot ticket on artisanal American menus. You can prepare them in many ways, but you should always clean them well (those curls hold on to dirt, bugs, and potentially dangerous bacteria), and boil or steam them until tender, after which you can saute them if you like. This Gulai Pakis recipe puts them in a rich coconut milk sauce with fragrant spices like ginger, lemongrass, and turmeric.

Green Garlic

Green garlic is pulled from the ground before the actual garlic bulb forms and looks similar to scallions, but tastes like a much milder version of a garlic clove. Try it in our Green Garlic Aioli recipe or our Angel Hair Pasta with Green Garlic Cream recipe—or make it into pesto, or chop it up to mix into salads for a bit of bite.

Kohlrabi

The German-derived name of this homely vegetable translates as “cabbage turnip” and it’s a delicious flavor hybrid of broccoli, celery, and potato—which helps explain why it’s so good in our Mock Potato Salad recipe, not to mention roasted or made into a mash. You can eat it raw, too, in slaws or salads, especially when you get your hands on the small, tender specimens that turn up in spring.

Morel Mushrooms

Crinkle-capped morel mushrooms emerge in spring for a brief period and are treated (appropriately) like treasure by serious mushroom hunters. If you’re not a seasoned forager and can’t find a professional to help guide you, stick to your farm stands and high-end supermarkets and you should get a crack at these nutty, meaty, beloved fungi at least once or twice during the season. You can add them to pizzas and pastas or simply saute them and enrich with a touch of cream (and Cognac…) and pile them on toast for a casual yet celebratory spring meal.

New Potatoes

New potatoes are freshly dug potatoes that have not reached maturity and have never been kept in storage. Tender, creamy, and mildly earthy-sweet with the thinnest skins (don’t even consider trying to peel them), they’re great in all sorts of potato salads, or simply steamed or roasted with fresh herbs, butter, and salt and pepper.

Nettles

Nettles are covered in tiny, hollow, needlelike hairs filled with a toxicant that irritates people’s skin—hence their full name, stinging nettles. Cooking, drying, or freezing nettles renders them totally safe to eat, but you have to wonder who first felt brave enough to figure that out. Try them simply sauteed as a green side, or (once cooked) pile them up on on ricotta toasts. They have a nutty, herbal flavor that’s great in soup or on pizza too. Swap them in anywhere you’d use cooked chard or spinach, in fact.

Pea Shoots

Pea shoots (or pea sprouts, or pea tendrils) are the tender first growth of the snow pea or English pea plant. They can be found year-round but become more prevalent at farmers’ markets in the spring. With a sweet, clean taste reminiscent of peas (shocking, right?), they’re great in salads or stir-fries.

Peas were originally very starchy gardeners cultivated the sweet green garden pea during the Renaissance, and now they’re one of the most exalted spring treats around. Cook them gently, if at all. A couple of our favorite ways to use them are in our bright Green Pea Soup recipe (equally good warm or chilled), and our Pea Custard Salad, which is an elegant interpretation of spring on a plate.

Radishes

Red radishes are another of those things you’ll see all year, and they’re actually consistently tasty, but spring is prime time for many varieties. Sliced raw for salads, radishes (any kind) lend a mildly spicy bite and fresh, tender crunch, but they’re great pickled for garnishes too—and you can even cook them, as in our Pan-Seared Radishes with Miso Butter recipe. If the greens look good, they’re also edible. Garden Betty has more great info on winter radishes vs spring radishes.

Ramps

Ramps are a wild leek native to Appalachia. Like many other formerly under-the-radar ingredients (nationally speaking, at least), they’ve become an incredibly sought-after farmers’ market item and darling of chefs. To wit: try David Chang’s Pickled Ramps recipe. You can also braise them, grill them, or roast them. Read more about why people obsess over ramps if you’re not yet one of them.

Rhubarb

This perennial vegetable of Asian descent has toxic leaves that shouldn’t be eaten. The edible stalk of the plant looks something like pink-to-ruby-hued celery and tastes extremely bitter and astringent when raw, which may explain why it so often turns up in sugary desserts that balance the rhubarb’s tart flavor. Technically, it’s a vegetable, but is usually treated like a fruit—baked into pies, crumbles, bars, and the like. But try it in our savory Rhubarb-Braised Chicken recipe too—and consider our Roasted Rhubarb Compote recipe and Rhubarb Syrup recipe while you’re at it.

Snow Peas

The French name for snow peas is mange-tout, which translates as “eat it all”—quite true, since not a bit of them goes to waste they’re tender enough to eat as-is, including the sweet pod (just pull off the stringy tips/ends first). These are available year-round but peak in the spring and fall. Toss them into salads, or stir-fry them. (Incidentally, sugar snap peas are a cross between snow peas and English peas, and can also be eaten raw.)

Strawberries

W ild strawberries were so plentiful in America that there was limited garden cultivation of the fruit until the late 18th century. Now, they’re gown on mega-farms all year round, but they’re only truly great in season, from mid-to-late spring through summer. Naturally, they shine in desserts from strawberry shortcake to pie, but work equally well raw in salads like our Shaved Fennel and Strawberry Salad. Try preserving them in homemade jam or jelly too—because you’ll want to hold on to that flavor as long as possible.

Tarragon

Tarragon was once thought to ward off serpents and dragons and to heal snakebites. We don’t know about that, but it is a fantastically fragrant and underappreciated herb from the sunflower family, with notes of sweet anise. It’s strong, but using it fresh gives you a little more margin for error use it to infuse vinegar, or pair it with eggs (like our Deviled Eggs with Tarragon) or chicken (as in our classic Tarragon Chicken Salad recipe). It’s also good in mocktails (or cocktails) or made into a savory shallot-herb jam for grilled cheese sandwiches and roasted meats.

White Asparagus

White asparagus is grown without exposure to sunlight, which would turn the stalks green—otherwise, it’s the exact same thing as the more common produce section staple. It does cost more due to the extra labor involved in growing it, and it does have a slightly different, more delicate flavor. Read more about white asparagus, and try showcasing it in our White Asparagus Soup recipe.

Explore all the rest of the season’s best at our spring headquarters, and for what’s up next, see our summer produce guide.

This post was originally published in 2007 and has been updated with new images, links, and text.


Roasted Spring Pea Soup

  • wheat-free
  • dairy-free
  • fish-free
  • peanut-free
  • shellfish-free
  • pork-free
  • balanced
  • gluten-free
  • egg-free
  • high-fiber
  • soy-free
  • tree-nut-free
  • red-meat-free
  • Calories 398
  • Fat 18.0 g (27.7%)
  • Saturated 3.0 g (15.0%)
  • Carbs 40.6 g (13.5%)
  • Fiber 8.8 g (35.0%)
  • Sugars 14.9 g
  • Protein 16.7 g (33.4%)
  • Sodium 1224.3 mg (51.0%)

Ingredients

fresh peas, shelled (or frozen green peas)

leeks, white and light green parts, halved and thinly sliced

fresh tarragon leaves, chopped

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. If using fresh peas, add to a pot of salted boiling water and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes until tender, and then drain.

Toss peas with 2 tablespoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and spread in a single layer over a large baking sheet. Roast for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, tarragon, and thyme season with salt and pepper and cook 2 minutes more. Pour in the wine and cook until it's almost completely reduced.

Stir in the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, stir in the peas, and cook for about 2 minutes.

Use a blender or food processor to purée the soup. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.


Smoky lentil soup with tarragon and mushrooms

Gumbo beet greens corn soko endive gumbo gourd. Parsley shallot courgette tatsoi pea sprouts fava bean collard greens dandelion okra wakame tomato. Dandelion cucumber earthnut pea peanut soko zucchini.

Turnip greens yarrow ricebean rutabaga endive cauliflower sea lettuce kohlrabi amaranth water spinach avocado daikon napa cabbage asparagus winter purslane kale. Celery potato scallion desert raisin horseradish spinach carrot soko. Lotus root water spinach fennel kombu maize bamboo shoot green bean swiss chard seakale pumpkin onion chickpea gram corn pea. Brussels sprout coriander water chestnut gourd swiss chard wakame kohlrabi beetroot carrot watercress. Corn amaranth salsify bunya nuts nori azuki bean chickweed potato bell pepper artichoke.

Nori grape silver beet broccoli kombu beet greens fava bean potato quandong celery. Bunya nuts black-eyed pea prairie turnip leek lentil turnip greens parsnip. Sea lettuce lettuce water chestnut eggplant winter purslane fennel azuki bean earthnut pea sierra leone bologi leek soko chicory celtuce parsley jícama salsify.

Celery quandong swiss chard chicory earthnut pea potato. Salsify taro catsear garlic gram celery bitterleaf wattle seed collard greens nori. Grape wattle seed kombu beetroot horseradish carrot squash brussels sprout chard.

Pea horseradish azuki bean lettuce avocado asparagus okra. Kohlrabi radish okra azuki bean corn fava bean mustard tigernut jícama green bean celtuce collard greens avocado quandong fennel gumbo black-eyed pea. Grape silver beet watercress potato tigernut corn groundnut. Chickweed okra pea winter purslane coriander yarrow sweet pepper radish garlic brussels sprout groundnut summer purslane earthnut pea tomato spring onion azuki bean gourd. Gumbo kakadu plum komatsuna black-eyed pea green bean zucchini gourd winter purslane silver beet rock melon radish asparagus spinach.

Beetroot water spinach okra water chestnut ricebean pea catsear courgette summer purslane. Water spinach arugula pea tatsoi aubergine spring onion bush tomato kale radicchio turnip chicory salsify pea sprouts fava bean. Dandelion zucchini burdock yarrow chickpea dandelion sorrel courgette turnip greens tigernut soybean radish artichoke wattle seed endive groundnut broccoli arugula.

Soko radicchio bunya nuts gram dulse silver beet parsnip napa cabbage lotus root sea lettuce brussels sprout cabbage. Catsear cauliflower garbanzo yarrow salsify chicory garlic bell pepper napa cabbage lettuce tomato kale arugula melon sierra leone bologi rutabaga tigernut. Sea lettuce gumbo grape kale kombu cauliflower salsify kohlrabi okra sea lettuce broccoli celery lotus root carrot winter purslane turnip greens garlic. Jícama garlic courgette coriander radicchio plantain scallion cauliflower fava bean desert raisin spring onion chicory bunya nuts. Sea lettuce water spinach gram fava bean leek dandelion silver beet eggplant bush tomato.


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The Ultimate Spring Produce Guide: What’s in Season & How to Use It

Need a spring vegetable guide to what’s in season? Consider this your spring produce cheat sheet—complete with when you can expect to find specific fruit and veggies in stores and markets, and some of our favorite ways to use each one.

Springtime means giving winter staples the boot and dedicating dinnertime to those tender young things now appearing at greenmarkets and farm stands (though you may need to place your orders online this year as social distancing forces creative solutions to crowded shopping spaces).

We look forward to these spring vegetables (and herbs, and fruits) every year, for the new start they represent and for the fact that they’re all so vibrant and delicious. This year, maybe more than ever.

Spring Produce Season Calendar

Below, an A-Z of our favorite spring vegetables and when they usually appear (and exit, after all too brief a stay)—of course, it all depends on where you are, what the weather’s doing in any given year, and so on, but in general, these periods are when each ingredient is at its peak.

  • Artichokes (Oct. – May best between Mar. – May)
  • Asparagus (Feb. – Jun. best in April – May)
  • Baby Carrots (May)
  • Chives (May – Jun.)
  • Fava Beans (Mar. – May)
  • Fennel (Oct. – May)
  • Fiddlehead Ferns (April – May)
  • Green Garlic (Feb. – Jun.)
  • Kohlrabi (Feb. – Apr.)
  • Morel Mushrooms (Mar. – Jun.)
  • New Potatoes (Apr. – Jul.)
  • Nettles (Jan. – Jul.)
  • Pea Sprouts or Pea Shoots (Mar. – May)
  • Peas (Apr. – May)
  • Radishes (Feb. – May)
  • Ramps (Apr. – Jun.)
  • Rhubarb (Apr. – Jun.)
  • Snow Peas (Apr. – Jun.)
  • Strawberries (Apr. – Jun.)
  • Tarragon (Apr. – Aug.)
  • White Asparagus (Apr. – Jun.)

Spring Produce Guide

Get more in-depth info on each precious bit of produce you’ll see this season, including ideas on how best to use them while you can (for even more inspiration, check out our favorite veggie-heavy cookbooks and vegetarian cookbooks too).

And see our guide to storing fresh vegetables, fruit, and herbs to make sure they last as long as possible.

Artichokes

These edible thistles contain an acid called cynarin that makes everything taste sweet after eating them. They are admittedly time-consuming to prepare, but lovers of artichokes (like Catherine de Medici, for one) know it’s worth it. See our Basic Steamed Artichoke recipe and pair the tender leaves with a classic aioli or any other dipping sauce you fancy.

Asparagus

You are probably well aware by now that “asparagus pee” is a thing, but did you know China is the world’s top asparagus producer, or that it takes three years to grow from a seed? While it’s common practice to snap off the woody ends, you can usually simply use a veggie peeler to shave off the tougher layer on the bottom. Tender spring asparagus is delicious raw in a salad, simply roasted, baked into crisp “fries” with panko and parmesan, or starring in various other preparations, like our Asparagus Frittata recipe.

Baby Artichokes

These small, tender artichokes grow lower down on the stalk than their more mature brethren. They just need to be trimmed a bit, and can be eaten raw if sliced very thinly, or halved or kept whole and then cooked. So if you find preparing full-size artichokes a pain, keep your eyes peeled for these little guys. And try them in our Braised Baby Artichokes recipe, roast them for a nuttier flavor, or fry them for a crisp snack.

Baby Carrots

The first carrots were cultivated in Afghanistan, and were more purplish-red than orange. You can find them in various colors from pale yellow to dark purple at farmers’ markets and some grocery stores these days, with the darker colors being sweeter. But true baby carrots are not the same thing as those orange nubs you buy in bags those are just whittled-down chunks of larger carrots with clever marketing behind them. Look for intact baby carrots in spring, and braise, steam, or roast them whole for a lovely presentation. If you scrub them well, there’s no need to peel off the skin.

Burstenhaus Redecker Vegetable Brush, $5.95 at Sur La Table

Beets

Beets are more strongly associated with fall and winter, but these hardy root vegetables are also available in spring, when they’re small and sweet. If you don’t normally like their earthy flavor, milder spring beets may change your mind. And when they’re super small and tender, you can shave them raw in salads (but they also still take well to traditional preparations like our Pickled Beets recipe). Saute the beet greens after a good washing too, and serve them as a side dish, in a pasta main course, or in a savory pie.

Chives

One of the first herbs to emerge from the ground, chives are not the same as scallions or green onions, though they are a member of the allium family and have that characteristic pungent smell and taste. They’re more delicate and sweet than raw onions or garlic, though, and are great snipped into salads and sprinkled on top of all sorts of things, from pasta and soup to risotto, quiches, tarts, and roasted veggies. Blend them into chive butter, biscuit dough, and salad dressing too. Basically, use them everywhere. You can (and should!) also eat their flowers. Chives freeze and rot easily, so store them in the warmest part of the refrigerator.

Open Kitchen Herb Shears, $10 at Williams Sonoma

Fava Beans

Favas were the only bean known to Europe until the discovery of the New World. They are a truly spectacular treat, but like the artichoke, they’re high-maintenance. You have to split open their pods, of course, and then pinch each individual bean out of its skin as well. But the reward is tender, bright green, sweet, spring-flavored bliss. If you have really small favas—like, pea-sized—then you can get away with leaving them in the skin. Or try this trick from The New York Times: roast larger favas and then eat them like edamame, popping them from their skins as you snack. Otherwise, we like them in warm salads like this one with chanterelles and poached eggs, or a version with green beans and radicchio, or in a Fava Bean Puree.

Fennel

Seksak Kerdkanno / EyeEm / Getty Images

This pale green and white bulb with tall stalks topped with feathery fronds has a clean, crisp bite when eaten raw as in our Shaved Fennel and Strawberry Salad recipe, but can also be cooked into mellow, silky perfection—like in our Braised Fennel recipe. The plant produces the licorice-like fennel seed you may know from mild Italian sausage, but the fennel bulb itself has a far fainter anise flavor (so don’t be afraid to try it if you think the seeds taste too strong). Depending on where you live, you may find fennel at its best in fall (and its season actually ending in spring), but in cooler climates, it makes its first appearance as the weather turns milder. Be sure to use the fronds as a garnish for all your fennel dishes.

Fiddlehead Ferns

The unfurled fronds of young ferns are a popular ingredient in Indonesian cooking, but they’ve also become a hot ticket on artisanal American menus. You can prepare them in many ways, but you should always clean them well (those curls hold on to dirt, bugs, and potentially dangerous bacteria), and boil or steam them until tender, after which you can saute them if you like. This Gulai Pakis recipe puts them in a rich coconut milk sauce with fragrant spices like ginger, lemongrass, and turmeric.

Green Garlic

Green garlic is pulled from the ground before the actual garlic bulb forms and looks similar to scallions, but tastes like a much milder version of a garlic clove. Try it in our Green Garlic Aioli recipe or our Angel Hair Pasta with Green Garlic Cream recipe—or make it into pesto, or chop it up to mix into salads for a bit of bite.

Kohlrabi

The German-derived name of this homely vegetable translates as “cabbage turnip” and it’s a delicious flavor hybrid of broccoli, celery, and potato—which helps explain why it’s so good in our Mock Potato Salad recipe, not to mention roasted or made into a mash. You can eat it raw, too, in slaws or salads, especially when you get your hands on the small, tender specimens that turn up in spring.

Morel Mushrooms

Crinkle-capped morel mushrooms emerge in spring for a brief period and are treated (appropriately) like treasure by serious mushroom hunters. If you’re not a seasoned forager and can’t find a professional to help guide you, stick to your farm stands and high-end supermarkets and you should get a crack at these nutty, meaty, beloved fungi at least once or twice during the season. You can add them to pizzas and pastas or simply saute them and enrich with a touch of cream (and Cognac…) and pile them on toast for a casual yet celebratory spring meal.

New Potatoes

New potatoes are freshly dug potatoes that have not reached maturity and have never been kept in storage. Tender, creamy, and mildly earthy-sweet with the thinnest skins (don’t even consider trying to peel them), they’re great in all sorts of potato salads, or simply steamed or roasted with fresh herbs, butter, and salt and pepper.

Nettles

Nettles are covered in tiny, hollow, needlelike hairs filled with a toxicant that irritates people’s skin—hence their full name, stinging nettles. Cooking, drying, or freezing nettles renders them totally safe to eat, but you have to wonder who first felt brave enough to figure that out. Try them simply sauteed as a green side, or (once cooked) pile them up on on ricotta toasts. They have a nutty, herbal flavor that’s great in soup or on pizza too. Swap them in anywhere you’d use cooked chard or spinach, in fact.

Pea Shoots

Pea shoots (or pea sprouts, or pea tendrils) are the tender first growth of the snow pea or English pea plant. They can be found year-round but become more prevalent at farmers’ markets in the spring. With a sweet, clean taste reminiscent of peas (shocking, right?), they’re great in salads or stir-fries.

Peas were originally very starchy gardeners cultivated the sweet green garden pea during the Renaissance, and now they’re one of the most exalted spring treats around. Cook them gently, if at all. A couple of our favorite ways to use them are in our bright Green Pea Soup recipe (equally good warm or chilled), and our Pea Custard Salad, which is an elegant interpretation of spring on a plate.

Radishes

Red radishes are another of those things you’ll see all year, and they’re actually consistently tasty, but spring is prime time for many varieties. Sliced raw for salads, radishes (any kind) lend a mildly spicy bite and fresh, tender crunch, but they’re great pickled for garnishes too—and you can even cook them, as in our Pan-Seared Radishes with Miso Butter recipe. If the greens look good, they’re also edible. Garden Betty has more great info on winter radishes vs spring radishes.

Ramps

Ramps are a wild leek native to Appalachia. Like many other formerly under-the-radar ingredients (nationally speaking, at least), they’ve become an incredibly sought-after farmers’ market item and darling of chefs. To wit: try David Chang’s Pickled Ramps recipe. You can also braise them, grill them, or roast them. Read more about why people obsess over ramps if you’re not yet one of them.

Rhubarb

This perennial vegetable of Asian descent has toxic leaves that shouldn’t be eaten. The edible stalk of the plant looks something like pink-to-ruby-hued celery and tastes extremely bitter and astringent when raw, which may explain why it so often turns up in sugary desserts that balance the rhubarb’s tart flavor. Technically, it’s a vegetable, but is usually treated like a fruit—baked into pies, crumbles, bars, and the like. But try it in our savory Rhubarb-Braised Chicken recipe too—and consider our Roasted Rhubarb Compote recipe and Rhubarb Syrup recipe while you’re at it.

Snow Peas

The French name for snow peas is mange-tout, which translates as “eat it all”—quite true, since not a bit of them goes to waste they’re tender enough to eat as-is, including the sweet pod (just pull off the stringy tips/ends first). These are available year-round but peak in the spring and fall. Toss them into salads, or stir-fry them. (Incidentally, sugar snap peas are a cross between snow peas and English peas, and can also be eaten raw.)

Strawberries

W ild strawberries were so plentiful in America that there was limited garden cultivation of the fruit until the late 18th century. Now, they’re gown on mega-farms all year round, but they’re only truly great in season, from mid-to-late spring through summer. Naturally, they shine in desserts from strawberry shortcake to pie, but work equally well raw in salads like our Shaved Fennel and Strawberry Salad. Try preserving them in homemade jam or jelly too—because you’ll want to hold on to that flavor as long as possible.

Tarragon

Tarragon was once thought to ward off serpents and dragons and to heal snakebites. We don’t know about that, but it is a fantastically fragrant and underappreciated herb from the sunflower family, with notes of sweet anise. It’s strong, but using it fresh gives you a little more margin for error use it to infuse vinegar, or pair it with eggs (like our Deviled Eggs with Tarragon) or chicken (as in our classic Tarragon Chicken Salad recipe). It’s also good in mocktails (or cocktails) or made into a savory shallot-herb jam for grilled cheese sandwiches and roasted meats.

White Asparagus

White asparagus is grown without exposure to sunlight, which would turn the stalks green—otherwise, it’s the exact same thing as the more common produce section staple. It does cost more due to the extra labor involved in growing it, and it does have a slightly different, more delicate flavor. Read more about white asparagus, and try showcasing it in our White Asparagus Soup recipe.

Explore all the rest of the season’s best at our spring headquarters, and for what’s up next, see our summer produce guide.

This post was originally published in 2007 and has been updated with new images, links, and text.


Crock-Pot Split Pea Soup

I love how this basic split pea soup has just 5 ingredients (split peas, chicken broth, carrots, onions and ham) making this a super frugal recipe especially if you are using leftover ham from a holiday meal.

I know in our family leftover ham from Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter are almost always looked forward in a good bowl of split pea soup or other ham and bean soup.

And if you don’t have leftover ham you can easily buy a couple of ham steaks at the grocery store and dice them up to add to your soup. And if you are really in a pinch I have used cooked bacon too. YUM

For a meal I like to just put out a bowl of rolls and make up a yummy salad and we will have soup and salad for dinner which is actually a big hit with my family.

Enjoy this lovely recipe from Krista folks and let us know in the comments what you think!


Split Pea Soup with Bacon (or, How To Eat Well For Almost No Money)

“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.”

― M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition

There is a book called How To Cook A Wolf by M.F.K. Fisher. It is arguably the best piece of food writing for hard times ever created. Fisher wrote the book during World War II food rationing, and created a classic filled with wit, humor and lessons on how to make do with less while still eating like you love food.

I have in my head a collection of recipes I think of as “How Not To Starve” meals. They lurk in the shadow of How To Cook A Wolf’s lessons, not from the book, necessarily, but cheap, filling and delicious.

This Split Pea Soup is one such meal. It can be made with very little, and yet is full flavored and almost sweet. The trick to making simple, cheap pulses like beans, lentils or split peas tasty is seasoning – cumin and ginger give this soup a lovely flavor and lemon zest and juice brighten things up. If you use water to make this soup, don’t skimp on the salt.

This soup is vegan-friendly, but if you eat meat, the addition of the salty, smoky crispy bacon is wonderful.


Smoky lentil soup with tarragon and mushrooms

Gumbo beet greens corn soko endive gumbo gourd. Parsley shallot courgette tatsoi pea sprouts fava bean collard greens dandelion okra wakame tomato. Dandelion cucumber earthnut pea peanut soko zucchini.

Turnip greens yarrow ricebean rutabaga endive cauliflower sea lettuce kohlrabi amaranth water spinach avocado daikon napa cabbage asparagus winter purslane kale. Celery potato scallion desert raisin horseradish spinach carrot soko. Lotus root water spinach fennel kombu maize bamboo shoot green bean swiss chard seakale pumpkin onion chickpea gram corn pea. Brussels sprout coriander water chestnut gourd swiss chard wakame kohlrabi beetroot carrot watercress. Corn amaranth salsify bunya nuts nori azuki bean chickweed potato bell pepper artichoke.

Nori grape silver beet broccoli kombu beet greens fava bean potato quandong celery. Bunya nuts black-eyed pea prairie turnip leek lentil turnip greens parsnip. Sea lettuce lettuce water chestnut eggplant winter purslane fennel azuki bean earthnut pea sierra leone bologi leek soko chicory celtuce parsley jícama salsify.

Celery quandong swiss chard chicory earthnut pea potato. Salsify taro catsear garlic gram celery bitterleaf wattle seed collard greens nori. Grape wattle seed kombu beetroot horseradish carrot squash brussels sprout chard.

Pea horseradish azuki bean lettuce avocado asparagus okra. Kohlrabi radish okra azuki bean corn fava bean mustard tigernut jícama green bean celtuce collard greens avocado quandong fennel gumbo black-eyed pea. Grape silver beet watercress potato tigernut corn groundnut. Chickweed okra pea winter purslane coriander yarrow sweet pepper radish garlic brussels sprout groundnut summer purslane earthnut pea tomato spring onion azuki bean gourd. Gumbo kakadu plum komatsuna black-eyed pea green bean zucchini gourd winter purslane silver beet rock melon radish asparagus spinach.

Beetroot water spinach okra water chestnut ricebean pea catsear courgette summer purslane. Water spinach arugula pea tatsoi aubergine spring onion bush tomato kale radicchio turnip chicory salsify pea sprouts fava bean. Dandelion zucchini burdock yarrow chickpea dandelion sorrel courgette turnip greens tigernut soybean radish artichoke wattle seed endive groundnut broccoli arugula.

Soko radicchio bunya nuts gram dulse silver beet parsnip napa cabbage lotus root sea lettuce brussels sprout cabbage. Catsear cauliflower garbanzo yarrow salsify chicory garlic bell pepper napa cabbage lettuce tomato kale arugula melon sierra leone bologi rutabaga tigernut. Sea lettuce gumbo grape kale kombu cauliflower salsify kohlrabi okra sea lettuce broccoli celery lotus root carrot winter purslane turnip greens garlic. Jícama garlic courgette coriander radicchio plantain scallion cauliflower fava bean desert raisin spring onion chicory bunya nuts. Sea lettuce water spinach gram fava bean leek dandelion silver beet eggplant bush tomato.