For me, every Saturday from June till October is Farmers Market day. I look forward to exploring the stands set up in the park down near where we live, bags and cash in hand, and curiosity leading the way. Of course, I have my favourites that I’m always on the lookout for: herbs, tomatoes, bitter greens, all the stone fruits, peas, beets, the list goes on and on…
But every week I also try to include one thing I’ve never really cooked with, so that I can get to know it better. Ask it out on a blind date, see if we click, you know 😉 Last year I tried sorrel for the first time. We need to revisit that one, it didn’t go over well with Jim. But I’m not giving up.
This past week I picked up a big bunch of garlic scapes from my favourite veggie stand at our Humber Bay Farmers Market. I had tried them last year for the first time, but really only chopped them up and added them to a stir fry. This time I wanted to do something more ‘official’ with them. So I perused Pinterest. Most ideas seemed to revolve around pesto. Sure, pesto is an obvious choice, but also slightly a cop-out (no offence to all of you who just finished making batches of scape, or basil, or pea, or mint, or kale etc pesto)
But then I found a lovely recipe on The Messy Baker. She had a soup recipe that seemed so easy and yet full of flavour. I pulled it up and went over the ingredients. I made a few changes to it, like using my kefir creme fraiche instead of whipping cream to add a rich creaminess to it, omitting the lemon juice since the creme fraiche had a tang, adding baby potatoes to the simmering stock, and using feta as a final flavour zap instead of the parmesan that she used. And I saved the tops of the scapes and grilled them off to be an additional flavour, texture and garnish. I’m sure that if I didn’t have the creme fraiche, potatoes, or feta in the house, I would have proceeded with her recipe just as she wrote it: it looked that yummy.
I’m so happy with how it turned out. Jim ate the whole bowl without coming up to say a word. That’s always a good sign. I hope that you guys can find scapes where you are, or that the season hasn’t ended for them where you are. If that is the case, please remember this recipe, and visit next year to try it!!
Don’t walk by all the strange produce in the market stalls, you may be walking past the new love of your life (tastebud-wise that is!)
Farmers Market Garlic Scape Soup
A silky, vivid soup showcasing summer's fleeting scapes, and garnished with grilled scape flower tops and feta cheese.
- 1 lb garlic scapes cut into 2 inch pieces, reserving the pieces with the flowers for garnish (about 4 cups)
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 8 mini yellow potatoes scubbed, or 2 medium yellow fleshed potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- generous grind of black pepper
- generous pinch of kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp chilli flakes or more if you like!
- 2 tbsp fresh basil chopped
- 1/4 cup creme fraiche
- 1/2 cup freshly crumbled feta cheese
In a saucepan, gently heat the stock and potatoes over medium while you cook the scapes.
COOK THE SCAPES
Heat the oil in a large, heavy sauce pan over medium and cook the scapes (not the flower tops) for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, or until they soften. The timing will vary depending on how thick the scapes are. Add the salt, pepper and chili flakes and cook for a minute or two.
SIMMER THE SOUP
Pour the hot stock and potatoes over the scapes and cook with the lid askew, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the scapes are fully cooked and losing their bright green colour but have not turned dead-broccoli grey. Remove from the heat.
Now add the chopped basil and stir through.
Working in batches, purée the soup until smooth. You need to use a standard blender since an immersion blender won't get the scapes smooth enough. Scapes can be a bit pulpy, so purée the soup well. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if needed. Keep the soup warm over low heat until you're ready to serve. Don't cover with lid totally to avoid the soup turning grey.
WHILE THE SOUP IS SIMMERING (AND BEFORE THE BLENDING STEP) GRILL THE FLOWER TOPS
Place the tops in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and chili flakes
Heat a saute pan or grill pan over medium high heat.
When hot, grill the flowers on both sides until softened and just starting to char, about 4 minutes a side. Set aside.
Before serving, add the creme fraiche to the soup pot and stir to combine.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with crumbled feta and some scape flower tops.
This is a fabulous soup. Despite the name, the flavour is softer, not harsh at all. It has more of a chive undertone. So no garlic breath to worry about!
If you simply can't find scapes where you are, this recipe would work perfectly well substituting asparagus for the scapes. If you choose to make this with asparagus, add two garlic cloves to the asparagus pieces about 1 minutes before they are ready for the seasonings.