Ramp and Potato Soup

Memorial Day weekend is supposed to be the kick-off of summer. Sun. Gardening. Grilling. Relaxing at the lake.

Yet the weather around here looks cool and rainy. So I might trade in my plans to break out the grill and instead, huddle over a big pot of warm soup – because I will not be turning my heat back on, no matter how cold it might get. It’s almost June!

Depressing, yes. On the other hand, I’m a little excited to make a pot of ramp and potato soup. It’s a variation on leek and potato, but to me, it just has a fresher taste. Despite the weather, it kind of really invokes spring. Though at this point – shouldn’t we be thinking of summer

Hilary Adams and I made a pot of this soup at the Asa Bloomer building in downtown Rutland last week, as the second culinary event in the Real Rutland series. We actually threw in a number of different alliums (onion and garlic family members) in the pot, including garlic greens, yellow onions, shallots, and chives. Then we whipped up a garlic green pesto. Thanks to all who stopped by to talk with us and try these delicious local foods.

Ramp and Potato Soup

Many recipes will call for milk and/or cream as the liquid in a leek and potato soup. This doesn’t really work when you have dairy issues, like me. Of course, you could try a non-dairy milk. Coconut is often a route I take with soup. But I think the potatoes, and addition of a little yogurt, make this creamy enough without the extra fat. But use whichever you prefer. 

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups sliced and washed ramps, or any combination of your favorite alliums
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups potatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 large, sweet onion, chopped
  • fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 6 cups water or broth
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • A small bunch of chives, chopped

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and let sweat, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, ramps or other alliums, some salt and let cook for another 8-10 minutes. Pour in your liquid of choice, the potatoes, thyme, and a little more salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

With an immersion blender, puree the soup until almost smooth. Alternatively, very carefully transfer slightly cooled soup in batches a blender. Stir in the yogurt. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve in bowls, topped with the chives and some crusty bread on the side.

Wild Leek Risotto

The world of food is filled with misconceptions. And I love to do my best to clarify them.

Today’s clarification: Risotto.

Creamy, rich and delicious, risotto has a reputation of being a laborious and challenging dish to prepare. I disagree. Risotto is just Italian rice. We know how to make rice, right? If not – which is fine, many people actually do not know how to handle this household staple – you should probably start there. Here’s a good resource to help you out.

Once you have basic rice down, risotto is only slightly more complex. But certainly not out of your capabilities. Here are three things you need to know for a successful pot of risotto.

  1. You need a specific kind of rice. A high starch, short grain rice is ideal for absorbing liquid and producing a creamy, not mushy, texture. The most common risotto rice is called Arborio. Pick some up in the bulk section of your local co-op.
  2. Use a heavy bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven, to prevent sticking or worst case scenario – burning.
  3. Make sure your broth is hot and ready to go.
Wild Leek Risotto

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 – 6 as a main dish, 8 as a side or starter

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bunch ramps/wild leeks or 1-2 leeks
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine (optional)
  • 5 1/2 cups broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Though traditionally made with onions, spring is great time to substitute wild leeks, also known as ramps. You can forage your own or find them from a local farmer. But they won’t last long. If you miss out on the short season of ramps, feel free to use traditional leeks, but omit the greens, which are not very edible.

Prep your wild leeks with a good wash. Then separate the tops from the bottoms.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in your heavy bottomed pot. Add in the chopped part of the ramps and the garlic. Cook 5 minutes, until softened, then add in the rice. Cook another 3 minutes, stirring the rice around the pot to prevent sticking.

If using the wine, go ahead and add it in now and let it cook off for a couple of minutes. If not using the wine, just go ahead with the broth.

A ladle full at a time, add the broth to the pot, stirring and waiting until absorbed by the rice before adding the next ladle. Repeat this stirring and broth adding process until the rice is tender and no longer absorbs the broth, about 20 minutes. Stop occasionally to taste for doneness. Rice should be al dente, or with a slight bite to it. If you have a friend/partner/child, this might be a good process for them. It’s slightly time consuming, but certainly not challenging.

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Now remove the rice from the burner and add in the sliced ramp leaves, Parmesan, parsley, lemon zest and juice, and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir everything together to combine.

You’ll want to serve the risotto relatively soon after cooking. If it sits too long it will continue to cook and solidify. If reheating, add a little broth or water to thin out again. If you find yourself with way too much risotto, consider making Arancini, Italian rice balls.