I mentioned last week that springtime to me means rhubarb. But there is something else that also means springtime, fiddlehead ferns! These little curly ques of green have a certain flavor I find similar to asparagus. The season is quite short, so I try to take advantage of them as soon as I see them.
Now, there are some fiddleheads that are OK to eat, others are poisonous, so I never take chances foraging in the back field or in the hills and just buy them at the coop. Since I had both fiddleheads and asparagus in the vegetable bin, I thought the flavors would meld well together and decided to make a combo soup one night for dinner.
I first minced a small shallot with a couple cloves of garlic and put it in a Dutch oven with a couple teaspoons of warmed olive oil. I was too busy prepping the vegetables to notice it burned a little, leading me to remember two tips I’ll pass on to you. First off, try to have most things prepped before you start cooking, but if you don’t and you’re sauteing garlic and/or onions and not ready for that next step, add a little bit of water to the pot to slow down the cooking process. You’re not hindering anything aside from allowing the alliums to cook slower.
I added the fiddleheads and asparagus, tossed them with the shallots and garlic, and added some leftover chicken broth and water. A splash or two of white wine and I set it on its way to boil. I simmered the soup for about 15 minutes until the veggies were really soft.
I find both asparagus and fiddleheads quite “woody,” and despite several pulses in the blender, it never became completely smooth. Adding a bit more liquid would help this, but then, I like soup with a little bit of oomph and not completely pureed. Also, on some evenings, I’m impatient. Back to the pot went the soup. I had some half and half that was nearing its expiration date, so I added that, about a quarter cup. I live with someone whose least favorite herb is dill, and it’s one of my favorites, but tasting this it was just crying out for some dill and lemon. I added a half-teaspoon of dill weed, but if I were to cook this for myself, I’d add a full teaspoon. A few squirts of fresh lemon and some salt and pepper and it was ready to eat!
This recipe is fairly simple and easy variations can make it palatable to lactose and vegetarians. For dairy-free, leave out the cream; for vegetarians, vegetable broth or water can be substituted. If you don’t cook with alcohol, you can always leave out the wine, too.
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced (or about 2-3 Tablespoons minced red onion)
1 ¼ cups fiddleheads, ends trimmed
2 cups asparagus, trimmed and coarsely chopped
2 1/2-3 cups chicken or vegetable broth or water
A couple splashes of white wine (optional)
1/4 cup cream or milk (optional)
½-1 teaspoon dried dill weed
A couple squirts of fresh lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
In a Dutch oven, add the garlic and shallots to olive oil warmed over medium heat. Saute for a couple of minutes until soft. Add the fiddleheads and asparagus and stir, combining all the ingredients. Add the liquid and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and let the vegetable simmer until very soft. When the vegetables are soft, in batches, puree the vegetables together in a blender or food processor. (*Have patience, it takes a while for these vegetables to be completely pureed.) When the soup is smooth, add back to the pot and add the cream, if using, dill weed, lemon, and salt and pepper to taste.