When I lived in Baltimore, my Sunday mornings almost always started with a visit to the farmers market underneath the expressway (sounds terrible, but it's a great market). Unlike NYC, the produce at the farmers market is far cheaper than at any supermarket, so I shopped almost exclusively at the market and often bought way more produce than I knew what to do with.
One week I ended up with several bunches of spring onions, an item that I didn't really intend to buy but did so because I was taken by their appearance and extreme freshness (they were, I was told, pulled several hours earlier). What to do with them?
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 I just don't like cold soup, and also because it's usually a drab beige color and beige food is sad.
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 wonderful – and totally easy to make – spring soup.
For the soup
bunches spring onions
unsalted butter (or canola oil to make it vegan)
freshly ground white pepper (black pepper is ok if you don't have white pepper)
medium yukon gold potatoes (about 12 ounces)
heavy cream (or soy creamer to make this vegan; both are optional)
For the croutons
thick slices (3/4" - 1" thick) good bread (I used leftovers from a no-knead loaf, but any good bread like ciabatta or a boule will work great here)
extra virgin olive oil
grated parmesan cheese (or 2 tablespoons ground cashews + 1/4 teaspoon salt to make it vegan)
Large pinch of salt
In This Recipe
For the soup
Pull the dark green leaves off the spring onions and set them aside.
Trim off the very end of the bulbs and thinly slice the bulbs and main stalks (the light green parts) – 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 (or canola oil) 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 the onions start to brown, lower the heat.
In the meantime, chop the potatoes into large chunks – you should have about 4 cups.
When the 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. You could use an immersion blender, but I've found that a regular blender results in a smoother soup.)
Serve the soup warm. Top each serving with the reserved buds, a drizzle of cream, and a handful of croutons.
For the croutons
While the soup is cooking, heat your oven to 350 F and place a rack in the middle.
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 for a few minutes. 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 until they are barely browned on the edges, about 7-8 minutes.
Return the croutons to the bowl, add the grated cheese (or cashews) and salt, and toss well to combine. Return the croutons to the baking sheet and bake until lightly golden brown, about 7-8 minutes.
Cool completely before serving. You can store extras in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.