Mint is a refreshing flavor that is often the star ingredient in soups and salads. Now that it’s spring, consumers are craving freshness, and that’s exactly what your dishes will taste like if you add a sprig of mint. The herb can also come in handy during a season when allergy sufferers feel their worst. According to Medical News Today, mint plants contain rosmarinic acid, an antioxidant that has been shown to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms.
So what are you waiting for? Get to your market and stock up on the herbs. Here are 6 fresh soup and salad recipes you should serve to your dinner guests this spring. Everyone can enjoy fresh herbs, and these light dishes are sure to impress.
1. Minted Spring Pea Salad
Our first recipe is highlighted on Eating Well but actually comes from Michele Obama’s cookbook, American Grown. English peas are only available for a short time in the spring, and Michele takes advantage of the harvest in her recipe by pairing the peas with shallots, leeks, lemon zest, and fresh mint leaves. This green salad is the perfect purist dish that will reset your eating habits and get you back on the healthy bandwagon just in time for summer.
- 2½ cups shelled fresh green peas
- 1 small shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 small leek, cleaned, white part only, thinly sliced
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup shredded fresh mint leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Pour the peas into the water and cook for no more than 2 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge the peas into a bowl of ice water. Drain and pat dry with a towel. Puree ½ cup of the peas in a blender.
Place the peas, pea puree, shallot, and leek in a medium, nonreactive bowl and toss gently to combine. Add the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss gently until the vegetables are coated. Serve immediately.
2. Fresh Pea and Mint Soup
Speaking of English peas, you can also enjoy them in this minty soup recipe from Bon Appétit. Prime soup season might be over, but this soup is light, fresh, and perfect for spring. Fresh Pea and Mint Soup will warm you through the first few chilly weeks of the season as the fresh herbs hopefully fight your allergies away.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1⅔ cups chopped shallots
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 cups shelled fresh peas
- 5½ cups low-salt chicken broth
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint plus additional for garnish
Directions: Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic. Sauté until tender, about 7 minutes. Add peas and stir 1 minute. Add 5 ½ cups broth and bring to simmer. Cook until peas are very tender, about 8 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Puree soup and ¼ cup chopped mint in batches in blender until smooth. Return to same pot; thin with more broth by ¼ cupfuls, if desired.
3. Minted Cucumber Salad
Next up is another healthy mint recipe from Once Upon a Chef, but this salad is sans the greens. Cucumbers, onions, and mint take their place, making this dish especially nutritious and delicious. This Minted Cucumber Salad has a light purist dressing (vinegar, olive oil, and vegetable oil), and is meant to be served cold. Bring the refreshing dish to your next party or potluck and you’ll have guests going crazy over this crunchy salad.
- 2 English cucumbers
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup chopped red onions
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2½ teaspoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
Directions: Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds, then cut into thin slices. Toss the cucumbers with the salt in a colander. Let drain in the sink for at least 30 minutes, then tap the colander on the base of the sink to release any remaining water. Lay a clean dish towel flat on the counter, then dump the cucumbers over top. Use the edges of the towel to blot the cucumbers dry.
Soak the red onions in a small bowl of ice water for 10 minutes, then drain in a fine mesh strainer.
In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onions, white wine vinegar, olive oil, vegetable oil, sugar, pepper, and mint. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover and let stand in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Serve cold.
4. Chopped Salad With Fennel, Lime, and Mint
If you’ve ever had a mojito, you know that lime and mint are a match made in foodie heaven. This salad recipe from Smitten Kitchen also takes advantage of the fresh flavor combo, but in a healthier way. Combining vegetables, scallions, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, and the seasonings of your choice, this Chopped Salad With Fennel, Lime, and Mint is a sophisticated spin on a classic salad dish, and it’s packed with flavor and texture. It’ll taste good on your tongue and look good on your table.
- 3 cups chopped, crunchy vegetables
- ½ cup crumbled feta, queso fresco or ricotta salata
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup well-toasted sunflower seeds, salted or unsalted
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon coarse or Kosher salt, plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon chile powder
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 to 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
Directions: Mix the vegetables, feta, scallions, seeds, and mint in a medium bowl. Whisk lime juice, olive oil, salt, spice, and black pepper in a small dish and pour over vegetables, tossing to evenly coat. Adjust with more salt or pepper as needed. Garnish with mint.
5. Spinach and Mint Soup
If you’re looking to spring clean your diet, try this Spinach and Mint Soup found on Epicurious. It’s light, it’s healthy, it’s fresh — it’s exactly what your comfort food-loving self needs to get back into gear for summer. Requiring only a handful of cooking staples, anyone can whip this up for dinner tonight and welcome the green season with a green soup.
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1½ cups chopped onion
- 1 Russet potato, peeled, thinly sliced
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 4½ cups low-salt chicken broth
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 2 packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained very well
- 1 cup chopped fresh mint, divided
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
Directions: Heat ¼ cup oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add potato and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add 4 ½ cups broth and green onions; bring to boil. Cover and simmer until potato is tender, about 15 minutes. Add spinach, ¾ cup mint, and cilantro. Simmer soup 1 minute.
Puree soup in blender in batches; return to same pot. Thin with more broth by ¼ cupfuls, if desired. Season soup with salt and pepper.
Heat remaining ¼ cup oil in small skillet over low heat. Mix in paprika; cook 1 minute. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with paprika oil; garnish with ¼ cup mint.
6. Couscous Salad With Tomatoes and Mint
Last is a semolina-filled salad found on Food Network. This Couscous Salad With Tomatoes and Mint is the perfect lunch, snack, or light dinner. It will fill you up without filling you out and will help you feel your best. The salad is refreshing thanks to the addition of fresh mint leaves, and filling thanks to couscous, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Toss your salad with a light oil dressing and toast to the upcoming sunny season.
- 3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 Kirby cucumbers, seeded, and diced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1½ cups instant couscous
- 2 cups water
- 2 wide strips lemon zest
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Pinch cayenne
- ½ cup torn mint leaves, stems saved
- ½ cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley, stems saved
- 3 scallions, chopped
- ½ cup toasted pine nuts, optional
Directions: Toss the tomatoes, cucumbers, and lemon juice in a bowl with 2 teaspoons of the salt. Set aside.
Put the couscous into a large bowl. Bring the water, lemon zest, 3 tablespoons of the oil, the remaining salt, cayenne, and herb stems to a boil over high heat. Pour the liquid over the couscous and stir to separate any clumps. Cover with a lid, plate, or plastic wrap, and set aside for 5 minutes. Remove the zest and herb stems and fluff with a fork.
Add the tomato mixture, scallions, mint, parsley, and pine nuts. Drizzle the remaining oil over the salad, toss and serve.