Every year, I go through this same routine.

I walk by my mint patch and when I see it poking through for the first time, I give a shout to anyone close enough to hear: “Woohoo! The mint is up!” Then I pick a leaf and crush it in my fingers to release the fragrance. It is such a specific and good smell: it announces the change of season and it opens up whole new possibilities in the kitchen.

I was so excited about it last week that I took a bowl of chopped mint out to the line of lunchtime customers and made them sniff it. The universal response of “Ahs” and “Ohs” let me know that many of us respond to its scent.

It has been that kind of week. From grey to blue, from small hints of green to full buds and blooms, from inside to outside, I can feel a change in myself and in those around me. It’s a new kind of energy, a revving up, an awakening, and even though I know it’s coming, it always surprises me and throws me for a loop.

For a few days, I feel a little scattered, ready to jump at every opportunity, wanting to do it all. Change is that way, even when I expect it. I prepare for it but when it arrives, all I can do is go with the flow. And right here and now, that means accepting some up and down temperatures, waiting to put my gloves and boots away, still keeping some warming soups and comfort foods in the rotation, and learning to focus that spring energy in a good way.

But mostly, I embrace the warmth of the sun and hope to get myself out in it every single day. I try to spend some lazy hours soaking in the change. In the garden, I watch my fledgling plants wriggle themselves out of the ground and spread upward. I make my first batch of meadow tea and lentil salad with that fresh mint and enjoy every sip and bite. And since the first asparagus is appearing, it’s time to make a batch of soup. This recipe for a chilled soup brings the mint and the asparagus together.

Hope you enjoy eating it outside!

MINTED ASPARAGUS SOUP

Serving size: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 cup potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1 cup apples, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon, dried
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 sprig of parsley
  • 2 cups asparagus, chopped
  • 1/2 cup greens
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh spearmint, minced plus some for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a sauce pan, sauté onions in oil until translucent.
  2. In a large pot, add the onions, potatoes, carrots, apples, garlic, bay leaves, tarragon, salt, water and parsley. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Stir in the asparagus and greens and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and discard the bay leaves.
  5. Using an immersion blender, purée the rest of the soup with the milk. Then stir in the lemon juice and mint.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Refrigerate for an hour and serve chilled.
  8. Garnish with mint. Also good with croutons. Some of you might not like cold soup, so feel free to serve warmed.

 

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