All Souped Up For Spring

Recipes: By Mary James Photography by Martin Mann


All Souped Up For Spring


It seems like everything is lighter in spring, including the dishes we crave after months of winter’s hearty fare. This month’s warmer days are ideal for these zesty soups by three top chefs who created them to satisfy their fans.


Bistro West

nearby farm, executive chef Eugenio Martignago created this fresh updated minestrone for the spring menu at Bistro West and West Steak and Seafood in Carlsbad. For the richest flavor, shop farmers’ markets for the vegetables if you don’t grow your own.


Spring Vegetable Minestra

Serves 6-8

¼ cup olive oil

1 onion, sliced thin

6 ribs celery, sliced thin on the bias

6 baby carrots, peeled and sliced thin on bias

2 tablespoons garlic, chopped fine

2 cups fresh English peas, shelled

1 cup sugar snap peas, cut in half

2 bunches Rainbow chard, stemmed
and rough chopped

2 cups fresh or canned tomatoes, peeled
and rough chopped

1 bunch asparagus, peeled and sliced
medium thick on bias

1 cup fresh fava beans, shelled

1 gallon chicken stock or vegetable stock

¼ pound slab or thick-cut pancetta

2 cups cooked macaroni or similar pasta

Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large soup pot, on medium/low heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, celery, carrots and garlic and cook slowly until completely soft, about 20 minutes.

2. Add rest of ingredients, except for the pasta, along with salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

3. Add the pasta and cook for another 5 minutes to heat through. Remove the pancetta and discard.

4. Ladle into warm soup bowls. Garnish with fresh pesto and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese if desired.


Pacifica Del Mar


AS SPRING NEARS AND WINTER WANES, chef-partner Chris Idso adds this savory, earthy soup to the menu at Pacific Del Mar in Del Mar. No need, he says, to remove the rind from the brie before stirring its creamy goodness into the soup.


Portobello Mushroom-Brie Soup

Serves 10-12

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 pounds crimini (brown) mushrooms, halved

4 large portobello mushrooms, quartered

½ cup yellow onions, chopped

½ cup celery, chopped

½ cup leeks, chopped

3 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

¼ cup sherry wine

1 ounce brandy

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes

½ cup cream

¾ pound brie cheese, cut into small cubes

1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Sauté crimini and portobello mushrooms, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, salt and pepper for 3-4 minutes until the onions are translucent.

2. Add the sherry, brandy and vinegar. Cook until they are reduced by half.

3. Add enough water to cover the vegetables. Add the potatoes and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

4. Add the cream and return the soup to a boil. Add the brie cubes and stir until they are melted.

5. Remove soup from heat and puree with an immersion blender until very smooth. (Soup also can be pureed in batches in a blender.) Adjust seasonings and serve in warm soup bowls.


Waters Fine Foods


MARY KAY WATERS, owner of Waters Fine Foods and Catering in San Diego and So-ana Beach, invented this “not too beany soup” for a customer. Richly flavored and scented, it’s now a menu favorite. If bisque is preferred, stir a cup of warm cream into the soup.


Tomato Soup
With Orange-Basil Crème Fraîche

Serves 8


2 yellow onions, chopped

3 stalks of celery, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes

1 quart vegetable stock or water

¼ cup fresh basil

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 cups freshly cooked cannellini beans (optional)

1. Sauté onions and celery in olive oil over low heat until wilted, approximately 15 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, vegetable stock, basil, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

3. Remove from heat. Puree in blender in batches until smooth. Strain and keep warm while preparing the Orange-Basil Crème Fraîche. (Soup can be prepared in advance and reheated before serving.)

Orange-Basil Crème Fraîche

1 cup crème fraîche

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Combine the crème fraîche, orange zest and chopped basil. (Can be prepared in advance and kept chilled in the refrigerator.)

To Serve

Put 1/4 cup of the cooked cannellini beans in each soup bowl, if desired. Then ladle the soup into bowls. Add a dollop of the crème fraîche mixture to each and serve.

Categories: Food & Drink