Spring vegetables are beginning to appear in the produce aisle—asparagus, sugar snap peas—so I wanted to take advantage. What I found is one of those absurdly simple recipes that you think just won't work. Or at least, that's what I was thinking. Really? I can just sauté some shallots and garlic, add stock and rice, simmer for awhile, then toss in crunchy delicious vegetables? And it will taste clean, healthy, filling, and delicious? Well, yes, that's the idea.
This recipe also happens to be the cover shot on Heidi Swanson's wonderful cookbook Super Natural Cooking; I found this recipe on the design blog Design*Sponge. It calls for brown basmati rice, which takes a bit longer to cook than the white variety, but has more substance and flavor, gently perfuming the stock as it in turn absorbs it. The green vegetables are only in the soup for two or three minutes, leaving them bright and crispy. I used some poultry stock on hand, but the original recipe uses vegetable stock, which might have been a lighter alternative. But the wonderful thing about this soup is how adaptable it is: Heidi says you can add a poached egg, or some basil, or a handful of grated Parmesan cheese, or a drizzle of sesame oil with some edamame. It's a soup you can fill up on without guilt, and it leaves you satisfied but not heavy.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup medium-grain brown basmati rice, rinsed
- 6 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
- 1 cup sugar snap or snow peas, or a combination of them, trimmed and cut in half diagonally
- 8 spears asparagus, trimmed and diagonally sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup green peas, fresh or frozen (not canned)
- Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground pepper
In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat, then add the sliced shallots and garlic and sauté until soft but not browned. Add the rice and toast for a minute or so, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the rice is just tender, 35-45 minutes.
Add the vegetables to the soup and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until cooked but still barely crunchy. Serve immediately while the vegetables are still crisp.