This straightforward soup is so loaded with goodness that it’s almost like a stew.
You will be tempted to eat it with a fork, but, trust me, you will want to use a spoon so as to get every last drop!
At the same time, it’s very light and flavorful, and the Parmigiano cheese and Bayonne ham, the French version of prosciutto or dry-cured ham, provide some meaty, salty seasoning.
This soup is best if refrigerated for a day to allow the flavors to meld together, or of course you can serve it the same day it’s made.
Either way, it's important to prepare the garnishes shortly before serving.
Makes 6-8 Servings
1 large carrot (of as uniform thickness as possible)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 2 1/2-inch-thick wedge of savoy cabbage
1 small leek
1 1-oz. piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or piece of Parmigiano rind
4-6 baby turnips
8 c. chicken stock or vegetable stock
1-2 celery stalks
1 lb. fava beans in the pod
4-6 small fingerling or "new" potatoes (no wider than 1/2 inch in diameter)
16 medium asparagus spears
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
24 small shiitake mushrooms, cleaned
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. chopped Italian parsley
2 oz. Bayonne ham or prosciutto (not sliced)
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Tbs. minced chives
1. For the Spring-vegetable Soup:
You'll need 1/2 c. of each of the sliced vegetables for the Spring-vegetable soup.
2. Peel the carrot and cut away the ends.
Cut it lengthwise in half, then cut each half lengthwise again to give you 4 pieces.
Cut each piece crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
3. Remove any dark green outer leaves from the cabbage and reserve for another use.
Place the wedge cut side down on a cutting board and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide slices.
4. Cut away the dark green leaves and root end of the leek.
Cut the leek lengthwise in half and rinse well under cold water.
Cut each piece of leek lengthwise in half and then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide slices.
5. Peel the baby turnips.
Cut off the tops, then cut them into small wedges, about 1/2 inch thick.
6. Wash and trim the celery.
Use a paring knife to pull away the strings, then cut the stalks into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
7. Wash the potatoes.
Cut away and discard the ends, then cut the remaining potatoes into 11/2-inch-thick slices.
8. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add the ham skin or fat side down and the garlic and swirl the pan for a few seconds to coat the garlic, then sweat the garlic for just a minute or two.
Add the 1/2 c. each carrot, cabbage, leek, turnips, and celery, stir, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook gently for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the 1/2 c. potatoes, the sachet, Parmigiano, and stock and bring to a simmer.
Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
9. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath.
When the potatoes are tender, pour the Spring-vegetable soup into a bowl or other container and chill in the ice bath until cold, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
(This Spring-vegetable soup is best, if it's refrigerated for a day.)
10. For the Spring-vegetable Garnishes:
Prepare another ice bath.
11. Shell the fava beans and peel the skins from the beans (peeling the beans before cooking them prevents gases from being trapped between the beans and their skins that could cause discoloration).
Remove the small germ at the side of each bean.
(You should have about 1 c. of beans.)
Blanch the beans in a large pot of generously salted water for about 5 minutes or until tender.
Using a skimmer, immediately transfer to the ice bath to chill.
12. Cut away the bottom third of each asparagus spear and discard.
Cut the remaining spears on a sharp bias into pieces about 1/4 inch thick and 1-1/2 to 2 inches long.
Blanch the asparagus in the boiling water until just tender and transfer to the ice bath to chill.
When they're cold, drain the fava beans and asparagus and spread on paper towels to drain.
Cut off and discard the mushroom stems, then cut the mushrooms into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
13. To Finish: If any fat has solidified on the surface of the soup, remove and discard.
Transfer the Spring-vegetable soup to a saucepan, and remove and discard the sachet and Parmigiano.
Remove the ham, cut away any excess fat, and cut into pieces about 1-1/2 inches long and 1/4 inch thick.
Return the ham to the soup and bring the soup to a boil.
14. Add the mushrooms to the soup, reduce the heat, and simmer for a minute.
Add the fava beans, asparagus, and tomato confit and remove from the heat.
Stir in the parsley and chives, taste the soup, and adjust the seasoning.
15. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each bowl with a few shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a drizzle of olive oil.
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