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Photos by James River Media

Soup for Every Season – Think Outside the Box

Soup is not just synonymous with the cozy depths of a winter’s day. Soup can also take on a new personality as the season’s temperatures begin to rise. Soup can be utterly refreshing, especially when dreaming of a spring day. The soups presented here are a little “outside the box” from your ordinary chicken noodle or hearty stew. They will be your new early springtime go-to meals that perfectly bridge the still chilly feels with the desire to eat al fresco. They are super easy, unique and totally on cue for the season! 

Spicy Avocado & Buttermilk Soup 

  • 1 Tablespoon avocado oil 
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced 
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 
  • 3 cups vegetable broth 
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice 
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard 
  • 4 ripe Haas avocados, pitted and peeled 
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, halved 
  • Cotija cheese, crumbled 
  • Tortilla strip chips (or broken-up chips) 

In a large deep skillet or sauté pan over low to medium heat, heat oil and add onion, jalapeño and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat. 

To a blender, add vegetable broth, buttermilk, lime juice, cilantro, mustard and avocados. Add the sautéed onion, jalapeño and garlic to a blender as well. Blend on high until smooth, about 3 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Serve immediately at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 4 hours before serving. When ready to serve, top with half a hard-boiled egg, Cotija cheese and tortilla strips. 

Chilled Cherry and Fennel Soup 

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (a neutral olive oil is best, plus more for drizzling) 
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped 
  • 1 cup fennel bulb (save the fennel fronds for garnish) 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 pound frozen (but thawed) pitted cherries (it’s hard to find fresh ones this time of year) 
  • ¾ cup heavy cream 
  • ½cup sour cream 
  • 1 Tablespoon honey 
  • 1/4 cup of water 
  • Chopped dill and parsley (for garnish) 

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, shallots, fennel, garlic, kosher salt and pepper. Cook over until the vegetables are softened, about 9-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. 

Add the cherries, heavy cream, sour cream, honey and water to the blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooled sautéed shallots, fennel and garlic, and blend one more time until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. To serve, drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with fresh parsley and chopped fennel fronds.

Herbaceous Spring Vegetable Soup 

  • 7 cups vegetable broth 
  • 10 new potatoes, quartered (small waxy potatoes only) 
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced 1/4-inch thick 
  • 2 celery stalks with leaves, sliced 1/4-inch thick 
  • 1 Vidalia onion, chopped 
  • 1 large leek, cleaned well and sliced 1/4-inch thick 
  • 3/4teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths 
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped 
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh dill, chopped 
  • Freshly ground pepper 
  • Dollop of sour cream 

In a large stock pot, add vegetable stock, new potatoes, carrots, celery, Vidalia onion, leek and salt. Bring to a boil. Once boiling is reached, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 more minutes until potatoes are cooked and vegetables begin to soften. Add the asparagus and continue to simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and dill and season with pepper and dollop with sour cream. This soup can be served hot or chilled.  

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