We've finally gotten some rain around here, and you know what that means: fiddleheads, ramps, and perhaps morels! I've seen fiddleheads and ramps at the market already. As for the mushrooms, I'm still waiting...
Fiddleheads are the coiled-up fronds of certain edible ferns. They taste like a cross between asparagus and green beans. You can use just asparagus for the soup, however, if immature fern fronds aren't your thing. For the aromatics, you have your choice of onions, leeks, or ramps. Ramps are foraged wild onions with a certain level of pungency that I enjoy. However, they were $17.98 a pound last week at Russo's, and so I will be using the 98-cents-a-pound spring onions until the price comes way down.
This soup tastes just like spring. Like a damp meadow without the mud and mosquitoes. Served warm, it takes the edge off of cooler days, and provides a sample of the warmth and greenery still to come.
Asparagus and Fiddlehead Soup
Always parboil fiddleheads before adding them to your dish to get rid of any bitter toxins.
1/4 lb. fiddleheads, soaked in two changes of cold water, drained
2 Tbsp. butter
2 medium leeks or 1 small bunch ramps or spring onions (white and light green part only), chopped
1 1/2 lb. asparagus, tough ends snapped off, remaining stalks cut into thirds
1 medium potato, peeled, cubed
5 cups veggie stock or water
1 tsp. kosher salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
Black pepper to taste
In a medium pot of boiling water, parboil the fiddleheads for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In the same pot, melt the butter over medium low heat. Gently cook the leeks/ramps/onions, stirring frequently, until they soften but don't take on any color, about 4 minutes. Add the asparagus, fiddleheads, potatoes, stock/water, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat and simmer until veggies are soft, 10-15 minutes. Set aside some fiddleheads and asparagus tips for garnish. Puree the rest right in pot with a stick blender, or let it cool and pour soup into a regular blender in two batches (never process steamy liquids in a blender unless you want soup all over your kitchen walls—make sure it cools first).
Reheat soup in pot with lemon juice, dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche, a few fiddleheads or asparagus tips, and chopped dill.