Springtime Broccoli Pea Soup
by Meghan Rodgers
April 27, 2021
Isn’t it so wonderfully uplifting when all of the vegetation outside starts to turn green again in the spring? Within weeks, we go from drab and lifeless to a luscious, fertile landscape. This spring recipe is inspired by that most exciting of season changes and features three of the most prominent spring cool-weather crops we can look forward to in Pittsburgh.
This vibrant green, vegan soup is so amazingly fresh, it’s like a bowl of radiant, spring sunshine. And it’s good for the earth too because it uses every part of broccoli — florets and stems! — so you don’t have to worry about food waste. And peas are in season, meaning they won’t have been shipped far before they arrive on your plate. (Bonus points if you grow your own!) Pair with a loaf of crunchy whole wheat bread for a light and luscious springtime meal.
When I began creating recipes years ago, I had a very simple rule: No ultra-specialized ingredients. If it wasn’t an ingredient most decently-stocked kitchen pantries would already have — or at least one that could easily be used again — I wouldn’t include it in a recipe. It would otherwise keep me up at night thinking about how many specialty spices or sauces or oils, bought at my urging, were going to go waste. They’d use the odd ingredient for a teaspoon here or a tablespoon there, then set it on the shelf until spring cleaning, some years later, saw it hit the trash can. And that’s the opposite of the eco-friendly world I try to create through plant-based cooking.
Today, I take that even a step further.
While it’s not always possible to use every single part of an ingredient in a recipe, I like to try! I hate creating recipes that I know readers might struggle with using the other parts of the fruit or vegetable.
And broccoli stems? Not always the easiest. They’re the unloved underbelly of the broccoli world, destined to become compost or even trash in many households.
So many recipes out there have you whack the florets from the top and toss the stems that you would be forgiven for thinking the stem holds no nutritional value. But it’s just the opposite. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), broccoli stems, though not as colorful or flavorful as the more desirable florets, are actually just as nutritious. In fact, stems contain slightly more calcium, iron and vitamin C as well as fiber.
To preserve the most nutrients, this recipe cooks them just until tender.
Most broccoli soups just call for broccoli, but in celebration of the spring season outside, I wanted to use other fresh green spring veggies for an even more balanced, nutritious meal.
Peas add protein while spinach adds tons of color or even more nutrients. Lemon juice gives the whole bowl a bright, cheery kick, and loads of green pistachios as garnish give the soup a bit of crunchy texture.
But as always, use whatever you have in your kitchen! I had a few different kinds of peas and baby spinach, but you might also consider substituting an ingredient for in-season asparagus. (I’ve tried it and it’s delicious!)
Whatever blend you find works best, you’re sure in for a healthy and cheery springtime treat.
Springtime Broccoli Pea Soup
2 tbsps olive oil
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 garlic cloves, crushed
about 2 1/2 cups of broccoli stems and florets, roughly chopped
2 cups peas (fresh or frozen or in the pod), set aside 1 tablespoon for garnish
1/2 cup spinach
2 cups vegetable stock (or water) + more if needed
1 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp pistachios (or pumpkin or shelled sunflower seeds)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil. Add onion and cook on medium until soft, about 8 minutes, careful not to brown. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute.
Add broccoli stems and florets and cook for about 2 minutes. Add peas and spinach and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring as not to brown ingredients.
Add stock and bring mixture to a boil. Let boil for about 5 minutes.
Use an immersion blender to puree the ingredients to desired smooth consistency. Alternatively, transfer ingredients into the container of a traditional blender and blend on high until desired smooth consistency reached. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Ladle hot soup into bowls and serve with a healthy serving of crunchy garnish like pistachios, pumpkin seeds, peas, or even a swirl of cashew cream.