by the handful

Nutritious culinary and healing recipes collected from the North American garden, orchard, forest, river and ocean

Deconstructed Spring Vegetable & Fish Soup

If you did your garden up just right you might have all the vegetables you need as this is a fairly common group of late spring/early summer garden offerings.  Of course they will all be easy to find at farmer’s markets as well. If you have never tried plucking pea leaves off and cooking with them, this is a good chance to give it a try. Baby spinach is a good substitute if you don’t have peas actively growing in the garden. The flatter the surface area of the veggie, the better so keep this in mind as you slice. Cooking the vegetables without a soup base gives us a chance to get some caramelization color and flavor going that might not otherwise exist. A cast iron skillet works great to retain and deliver the heat required to caramelize the vegetables but these skillets are heavy and not as easy to work with, especially in this recipe which requires moving the skillet frequently so feel free to use a lighter steel skillet.

Deconstructed Spring Vegetable & Fish Soup

1 lb whitefish (Cod, halibut, etc) cut into four filets

½ cup fresh peas

1 handful pea leaves

2 large carrots or a handful of baby carrots

12-16 asparagus spears

8 radishes

2 small fennel bulbs

2 cups Vegetable Broth

Salt

2 tbsps ghee butter, plus more as needed

Chives

Pat fish dry. If any pieces are thinner (tail sections) fold smallest tip under so all filets are relatively equal in thickness.  Sprinkle with salt, set aside.

Make piles of each prepared vegetable on a cutting board. Shell peas, separate pea leaves, slice carrots from tip to tail (if they are large enough) as many times as possible to get strips, cut radishes in half or even quartered if they are larger, if asparagus is skinny leave them be, otherwise cut from tip to tail if they are bigger, cut fennel bulbs tops and butts off (save tops to garnish), then slice the bulbs across the middle enough times to produce several ½ inch slices.

Add 1 tbsp ghee butter to a cast iron skillet and bring to med-high heat. Turn skillet to completely coat bottom with ghee.

Add fennel slices first, then radishes, carrots and finally arrange asparagus cut side down (if applicable) in whatever space is left and sprinkle all with salt. Reduce heat as needed.

After a few minutes, check each variety of vegetable for browning by flipping over. Once they begin to brown, shake the pan to turn and mix together. Let cook a few minutes more before adding the peas and pea shoots, add a small sprinkle of salt. Only cook these a minute more then divide up evenly between 4 bowls.

Add another tbsp of ghee to the skillet and readjust heat to med-high if you have already reduced heat, meanwhile heat the 2 cups of stock to a simmer in a small pot.

Turn skillet to allow melted ghee to pool and add each fish filet into a pool of ghee as you work around the skillet. Turn skillet to pool ghee and spoon over the top of fish. Do this 2-3 times as it cooks. Add more ghee as needed. Turn after 3 minutes and cook until completion. A poke test to the filets is the best way to check for doneness.

Pour hot stock over vegetables and then place fish filets on top of vegetables. Garnish with fresh chopped fennel and chives.

Serve each bowl with a fork and a spoon and slurp it on down

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