Spring has finally come to Colorado—not that anyone living at my elevation would know it by looking at the chilly mist-covered mountains. The nighttime temperatures still occasionally dip below freezing these days, but the rain has restored everything in sight, and reminded me that although my favorite color is still blue, the color of life is green. Before flower buds burst open to reveal their multicolored splendor, they are all one shade or another of green. In Spanish there is a beautiful word for this process, reverdecer, which means to “regreen.” The word carries with it a sense of renewal, refreshment, and restoration of hope. With all the speculation about life on other planets, so far the only life we actually know of exists here, on this infinitesimal speck we call Earth. And it exists in exquisite profusion, variety and beauty. Truly miraculous, even without considering how unique in the entire universe it really is.
It’s still too cold for most of the seedlings my wife has started, but chives, being perennials, have already come back on their own, complete with blossoming tips. Chive blossoms have a fairly short life, so it’s imperative not to put off using them. They make gorgeous garnishes, brightening up cold and hot dishes, from salads to soups. They have a wonderful herbal, mildly onionish flavor and a texture that is somewhere between crisp and yielding.
The following recipe is a variation of “Zucchini Soup with Basil,” from Speed Vegan (and you should really try both versions, because although they are quite different in flavor, they’re both super-delicious). The soup can be made year-round, since it’s always spring somewhere, and greenhouses make it possible to enjoy most produce during most of the year. But to include the chive blossoms, you pretty much have to grow them yourself—unless you know someone who grows them and is willing to share them with you. I’m fortunate to be married to one of the world’s most gifted gardeners, so all I have to do is go out and clip what I need (lucky, lucky me).
I haven’t met a single person yet who did not immediately fall in love with this silky-smooth, utterly fresh-tasting soup (in either of its forms, with or without the blossoms), so I’m quite confident that you too will enjoy it. And it’s so easy!
Zucchini Soup with Chives and Mint
Makes 4 servings
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
4 medium zucchini, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 chive blossoms (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften. Do not let it brown! Add the zucchini and garlic, and stir until nearly dry. Add the salt, water and bouillon cubes. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are very tender.
Transfer the contents of the pot to a blender and add the chives and mint. Process until smooth. Return to the pot, add the pepper, and reheat. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Serve at once, garnished with the optional chive blossoms, if using.
If you would like to try the version in Speed Vegan, simply substitute 1/4 cup basil leaves, firmly packed, for the chives and mint.