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A&E >  Food

Proof spring is soup season, too: This bright bowl is packed with peas, leeks, spinach and herbs

Spring vegetable soup is packed with peas, leeks, spinach and herbs.  (Tom McCorkle/For the Washington Post)
Spring vegetable soup is packed with peas, leeks, spinach and herbs. (Tom McCorkle/For the Washington Post)
By Ellie Krieger Special To </p><p>The Washington Post

I’m always taken aback when people talk about soup season as finite because it can be enjoyed year-round.

Soup fits any time of year, adapting to the weather and whatever produce is plentiful, from hot, hearty bowls built on roots and squash in the winter to chilled purées of ripe tomatoes or zucchini in the summer.

This recipe is spring in a bowl – joyful, green, fresh, bright and warm. It’s made with early harvest vegetables – leeks, peas, new potatoes, spinach and herbs – and is simply seasoned so their delicate flavors come through clearly.

The leeks and potatoes are simmered until tender in chicken or vegetable broth, but the rest of the vegetables and herbs are added before serving so they cook just long enough to yield to the warmth of the broth but still remain fresh and bright.

Feel free to vary the vegetables based on what you have on hand, swapping onion for the leeks, parsnips or carrots for the potato or using snow peas, baby kale and basil for the green vegetables and herbs, for example.

This recipe has such a garden-to-plate vibe, I think of it as the soup version of a salad, and I serve it that way alongside a sandwich or omelet or before a main course. Each spoonful is a delightful reminder that spring, like other times of year, is also soup season.

Spring Vegetable Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced into half-moons (about 3 cups)

12 ounces waxy potatoes, such as new potatoes or creamers, peeled and diced into ½-inch pieces

½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

2 cups (10 ounces) sweet green peas, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost)

2 cups packed fresh baby spinach leaves

¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill

In a soup pot over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, salt and pepper.

Add the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the peas and continue to simmer until they turn bright green and just tender, 2 to 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted but still bright green, 30 seconds. Stir in the herbs, then ladle into bowls and serve hot.

Yield: 6 servings

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