Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ramps -- et arrive

There is a cultish fascination with the wild ramp. Yes, they are fabulous to play with – part scallion part onion part garlic all within its slender stalk to broadening leaf. I slice them into salads and grill them to be served as a vegetable all on it own. I have even quickly pickled the stalks to garnish a Sunday brunch’s Bloody Mary cheer. Depending on the quality of the earth from which they are harvested, more directly the amount of sulfur in the soil, determines their potency.

So, yes, I will engage with these uncultivated alliums while their fleeting season lasts though I am more convince their trendy status is derived from the fact that are the harbinger of all that is in front of us. The earth has thawed from its wintry freeze and the risk of a hard frost is now, safely behind us. With the first of the season’s edible wonder filling our bellies it is our collective excitement that is starting to jazz up as we wait, knowing their arrival is assured, the first asparagus, sweet pea, peach and tomato. For those of us who have gardens this is the time we start digging on our knees. Personally, I watch the weather patterns hoping the old adage that April’s showers does bring May flowers and that we get a steady warming clime that will create a plentiful harvest in the weeks and months to come.

Ramp Soup – yields 4 servings
10-ounces ramps
5 stalks celery – minced
4 garlic cloves – finely minced
1-tablespoon olive oil
1/2-pound Russet potato – peeled and finely minced
2-cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Trim the root end of the ramps and discard. Then cut the ramp stems from their broad green leaves. Reserve the leaves.

Wash the ramps stems well. Then mince the stalks.

In a 1-1/2-quart saucepan add the ramps stems, celery, garlic and oil. Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the vegetables have lost their raw look. Mix in the potato and stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and cover with a lid. Simmer over a low flame for 45 to 60 minutes.

Take the reserved ramp greens and about 1/2-cup of the cooking soup (try to take primarily liquid), and place in a blender. Process until smooth. Add the pureed ramps to the soup, and cook an additional 15 minutes. Serve hot or cold with a dollop of sour cream.

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