6 Light Vegetarian Soups for Spring
Most people think that when spring season rolls in, soup season rolls out, but the reality for many is that the spring equinox doesn’t always promise immediate warmer temperatures. The air can be cold well into April and even early May, and that means that there’s still room for soul-warming soups and stews to keep away the chill.
So, before you count out soup just yet, check out these 6 recipes that will still warm you up without weighing you down. April showers may bring May flowers, but they also leave us damp and chilly, so let these soups heat you up as we get ready to finally say goodbye to the winter.
1. Fresh Pea Soup with Ham
Our first recipe comes from Chow and it’s for fresh pea soup. Celebrate English peas season with this light, refreshing soup that is green, but will still appease your meat lovers. The elegant pea soup is the perfect lunch or light dinner, and it pairs best with crusty bread. Get it while it’s hot!
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium leek, root trimmed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 2½ cups vegetable broth
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 3 cups shelled fresh peas
- ¼ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed
- Crème fraîche, for serving
Directions: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add the leek, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and a pinch of pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.
Add the broth, remaining 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and measured pepper and bring to a boil. Add the peas and bring to a boil again. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the mint leaves, and stir to combine. Let sit uncovered until the flavors meld, about 10 minutes.
Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap from the blender lid and covering the space with a kitchen towel. Transfer the soup to a clean saucepan or a heatproof bowl and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and season with more salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed. If serving warm, reheat over low heat. If serving cold, let cool to room temperature, cover, then refrigerate until cold. Top each serving with a dollop of crème fraîche, if desired.
2. Watercress Soup
Our next soup recipe is also green, and it comes from Food 52. This watercress soup is devoid of chicken or beef, but it does enlist butter and cream so you know it’s going to be good. Watercress, leeks, and pears come together to perfect this light, sophisticated soup, and the cream and butter keep it just as indulgent as it is refreshing. Pair this with a green salad or salad and you have a delicious spring meal.
- 2 bunches watercress
- 3 pears, cored, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 leek, chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 8 ounces heavy cream
- 4 cups vegetable stock
In a soup pot, at low heat melt the butter. Add the leek and cook until it begins to soften. Add the pear and cook covered for few minutes also until tender. Add the watercress, vegetable stock and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the cream and puree in the blender. Add additional salt and pepper to taste and serve with a piece of country bread if desired.
3. Asparagus Soup with Lemon and Parmesan
And not only are English peas in season, asparagus is, too, making this soup from Once Upon a Chef the perfect dish to serve at the dinner table this season. This soup is light and refreshing, thanks to the addition of fresh herbs and lemon juice, and the Parmesan doesn’t hurt, either. If you’re craving a dinner that will warm you up without filling you out this spring, try this tasty vegetarian soup.
- 2 bunches asparagus
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
- ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Handful fresh herbs, such as thyme, dill or basil
Directions: Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, cut the tips off of the asparagus spears and set aside. Cut the remaining spears into ½-inch pieces. Add the chopped asparagus to the pot, along with the chicken broth, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat down to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes until vegetables are very tender.
Meanwhile, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the reserved asparagus tips for a few minutes until tender-crisp. Drain and refresh under cold water or in an ice bath. Set aside.
Purée the soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth. If necessary, pass the soup through a fine sieve to remove the fibers. Return the soup to the pot and bring back to a simmer. Stir in the lemon juice and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and more lemon juice if desired.
4. Cream of Artichoke Soup
This next recipe from Saveur is creamy and indulgent, but is also meat-free if you use vegetarian stock. Warm up with this soup and you won’t mind the lingering frosty temperatures. This soup only requires a handful of ingredients, but the stars of the recipe are butter, cream, and artichoke hearts. Serve your soup with crusty bread and you’ve have a lot of happy dinner guests on your hands.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 pounds frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and roughly chopped
- 3 cups chicken or vegetarian stock
- 2 cups heavy cream
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Lemon wedges, for serving
Directions: Heat butter in 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add artichokes; cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until artichokes are very tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer stock and vegetables to a blender; purée until smooth. Return to saucepan, add cream, and bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by a third, about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with lemon wedges on the side.
5. Carrot and Leek Soup
More cream is enlisted in this carrot and leek soup from A Spicy Perspective, but this time, it’s sour cream, and the dish is a tad more on the healthy side. Do something good for your eyes with this carrot soup and slurp your vitamins and antioxidants instead of eating them. Carrots and leeks are a match made in veggie heaven, and as the recipe developer behind this formula highlights, the soup is the perfect “winter-to-spring transition dish.”
- 2 pounds carrots
- 3 large leeks
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 8 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
- 1 cup springy white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc
- ½ cup sour cream or creme fraiche
- Salt and Pepper
Directions: Trim the carrots and chop them into rough ½ inch chunks. Trim the root-end off the leeks and cut the white section into quarters. Slice across into small ½ inch pieces. Place the chopped leeks in a colander and rinse thoroughly. Place a large pot over medium heat. Add the butter, carrots, leeks and garlic and saute for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
Then add the thyme, lemon zest, stock, wine, 1 teaspoon. salt, and pepper to taste. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir and cover again. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the soup looks murky and the carrots are soft. Ladle the soup into a high-powered blender. Place the lid on the blender and open the top vent for steam. Lay a dish towel over the top of the blender and hold firmly as you turn the blender on. Purée until smooth. Then add the sour cream to the blender and purée again. Pour both batches back into the sauce pot and stir to blend. Serve warm.
6. Spring Vegetable Soup
Last but not least: spring vegetable soup from Martha Stewart. Combining spinach, potatoes, asparagus, dill, and peas, it’s safe to say you’ll hit your nutrients and fiber quota with this soup, and you’ll start the spring season on a healthy note. If you indulged in too much comfort food this winter, start your comeback with this fresh and healthy veggie soup.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 scallions, white parts thinly sliced, green part reserved
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 pound small red potatoes, halved, quartered if large
- 1 pound asparagus, cut into ¼-inch slices on a bias
- 1 bunch spinach, stems removed and torn
- 2 cups frozen peas
- Coarse salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
Directions: In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add scallion whites and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add broth, 4 cups water, and potatoes to pot. Bring to a boil, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Add asparagus and cook 3 minutes more. Stir in spinach and peas, and cook until spinach is wilted and peas are heated though, about a minute more. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in dill and scallion greens to serve.