There is nothing more welcoming in spring than a clump of fresh chives. The smallest species of the onion genus, Allium Schoenoprasum, is a choice edible herb, and the only Allium native to both the Old and New World. Here in Maine, chives grow as a perennial, and self-seed themselves wildly throughout the garden.
I use shears to clip the “grass” or chives, cutting about 2 inches above the base of the plant. If not harvested on a regular basis, the scape, the long green stem, will grow to 18 inches in height and produce a bright purple or pink-orbed flower. This blossom is also edible, and makes a stunning and colorful addition to potato salad, soups, and eggs.
Nutritionally speaking, chives are rich in Vitamins A and C. Their mild, onion flavor is a bright pick-me-up for any culinary dish. Food historians trace their usage back thousands of years, and chives are part of the “fines herbes” of French cuisine, the others being parsley, tarragon and chervil.
The recipe for Spring Chive Soup, an annual favorite of mine, is merely an adaptation of Potato Leek Soup. Easy to prepare, this soup stores well for several days in the refrigerator. The soup is thickened with potatoes, instead of flour, handy for gluten-free diets. The recipe is flexible, allowing for creativity of the chef. Enjoy as a light luncheon, or the start to an elegant meal.
Spring Chive Soup
- 1 tablespoon butter or oil
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 3 medium potatoes (about 1 ½ pounds), peeled and cut into cubes
- 3 cups chopped greens and onions (I used leeks onions, and kale)
- sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
- ½ cup chopped fresh chives
- 6 tablespoons cream optional
- In a heavy soup pot, heat the butter or oil and add the garlic. Soften, stirring frequently, then add the chopped greens and onions. Stir to coat and cook until they start to soften. If they stick to the bottom of the pot, add some stock. Add the stock and potatoes and simmer the mixture until the potatoes are cooked and just start to break down. Working in small batches, puree the soup in the bowl of your food processor or blender. Return the soup to the pot and season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper and chopped fresh chives. Serve the soup warm in heated soup plates. Garnish each bowl with a dollop of cream or sour cream. Makes six servings.