Last night at around 5:30pm here on the east coast, something magical happened. All at once, at the dinner table I looked up and noticed that it was still light outside. Instead of the pitch dark we had become accustomed to, there was a faintly pink sunset just wrapping up. I mentioned it to Brian and the girls, and we all agreed that spring might really be here soon. Later, a glance at my Instagram feed showed that others had noticed the pink glow, too.
Then today, a brief morning downpour greeted us as we left the house. The kind that makes everything smell like dirt. A spring rain. Once it had passed, I took a long walk. Suddenly, the warm sun was out, snow seemed to be melting in one giant gush, and the birds were chirping madly.
A week ago, I may have doubted it. But today, I tell you with total confidence that spring is coming.
With all this in mind, I came home after my walk to put up a post. I have a few things in the works, but they were all so wintery. Then I remembered this garlic, chive, and spinach soup. (And props please for linking to this? These awful orange photos are proof positive that we all have to start somewhere.) What better way to urge spring on, than with a warming soup made from the very earliest spring crops? So here you are, an earthy, vividly green soup with the all the flavor of slow-cooked garlic, collards, spinach, and scallions. It comes together easily, but is absolutely brimming with the comforting perfection that makes a good soup so wonderful. Garlic breath, here you come.
This versatile soup is well-suited to any of the spring alliums. Try subbing in green garlic, garlic scapes, chives, leeks, or ramps as they become available. Likewise, kale or chard could easily be added, though I’d keep the spinach since it’s what yields the gorgeous color.
3 tablespoons butter
8 large cloves garlic, ends trimmed, smashed, skin removed, and rough chopped
1 cup collard greens, cut into 1/2 inch ribbons
1/2 cup diced scallions
4 – 5 cups young spinach
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
pinch ground cayenne pepper
splash rice wine vinegar
sea salt and black pepper to taste
quark for serving (optional)
Heat a large stock pot over medium-low heat. Add the butter. Once melted, add the garlic, and cook for 5 – 7 minutes, stirring often to ensure the garlic doesn’t brown at all. Once garlic is soft, add the collards and cook for 2 minutes more.
Stir in the broth, bring soup to a gentle boil, then turn heat down to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes. Toss in the scallions and spinach leaves, stir, and turn heat off. Set aside for 4 – 5 minutes. Then carefully purée the soup, working in batches if needed. Soup should have a smooth, velvety texture.
Pour back into the stock pot, and heat over low heat. Add sea salt and pepper to taste, as well as the cayenne and rice wine vinegar.
Ladle into bowls and serve with a swirl of diluted quark or crème fraîche.