Springtime supper

Make creamy Asparagus, Leek, and Pea Soupwith Toasted Goat Cheese Sandwiches with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Olives for spring hygge

goat cheese

Photo: Kristi Bissell
A cup of creamy aspargessuppe (asparagus soup) with a toasted goat cheese sandwich bring some serious spring hygge.

True North Kitchen

There is something irresistibly simple and comforting about a bowl of homemade vegetable soup. This Creamy Asparagus, Leek, and Pea Soup is a lovely springtime version, silky smooth with just a touch of cream and loads of good-for-you spring vegetables. It’s perfect for those in-between days when there is still a chill in the air but the lure of spring produce is too tempting to resist.

While this recipe is indeed simple, I have a few tips to keep in mind that will ensure that your Creamy Asparagus, Leek, and Pea Soup is the very best it can be:

Clean your leeks carefully! They can be quite dirty, and if you don’t remove all of the grit, you are likely to end up with a gritty soup. No one wants that. Take the time to slice each leek in half lengthwise and rinse them thoroughly under running water, making sure to get in between each layer.

Practice safe blending when pureeing hot liquids. Hot liquids will quickly expand when put into a blender, which can cause the lid to fly off and soup to potentially go everywhere. To prevent this from happening: 1) Fill the blender no more than halfway with the soup and place the cover of the blender on top. 2) Drape a kitchen towel over the cover of the blender and hold the top in place firmly with your hand as you press the “on” button.

Season to taste with salt. This soup will need more salt at the end, I guarantee you. Without enough seasoning it will likely taste flat or even a little bitter or astringent. The only way to ensure that it is salted to your liking is to season and taste repeatedly until it’s perfect. Test and try until you get it just right.

And what is a creamy vegetable soup without something toasty and cheesy to go with it? This Toasted Goat Cheese Sandwich with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Olives is as delicious as it is easy to prepare and makes an excellent companion to the soup on a cool spring evening. Briny olives, tangy sun-dried tomatoes and mild goat cheese come together to bring a little unexpected pizazz to an easy weeknight soup and sandwich supper. Add a chilled glass of white wine and maybe some strawberries for dessert and you’ve got yourself some serious spring hygge.

Kremet asparagessuppe med purreløk og erter

Creamy Asparagus, Leek and Pea Soup

Serves 4

By Kristi Bissell

2 large leeks, white and light green parts only

2 pounds asparagus, woody bottoms trimmed and chopped into 1-inch lengths

1 tbsp. plus 2 cups of water, divided

Coarse salt

2 tsps. chopped fresh thyme

3 tbsps. unsalted butter, divided

3 tbsps. flour

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

½ cup frozen peas (no need to defrost)

3 tbsps. cream

2-3 tbsps. lemon juice

Cayenne pepper

Here’s how you make it:

Creamy asparagus, leek and pea soup

Trim the ends of the leeks and cut in half lengthwise. Rinse thoroughly under running water being careful to get in between each layer of the leek (they can be very dirty). Transfer to a cutting board and cut into half-inch pieces.

Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add a handful (about ½ cup) of attractive asparagus tips and 1 tablespoon of water. Cover and steam until asparagus tips are bright green and nearly tender, about 2 minutes. Uncover and sauté until completely tender, about 1 more minute, adjusting the heat as necessary to keep the butter from getting too dark on the bottom of the pot. If your asparagus tips are on the thicker side, this may take longer. Remove asparagus tips from the pot, sprinkle with coarse salt and reserve for garnish.

Add remaining 2 tbsps. butter to the Dutch oven. Once the butter has melted and foaming subsides, add leeks, thyme, and 1 tsp. salt. Sauté leeks and thyme in butter until leeks are soft and beginning to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add flour and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Add remaining asparagus, broth and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are just tender, about 5-7 minutes. (The time it takes will depend on the thickness of your asparagus spears. The thicker ones will take longer. The best way to know if they are tender is to test one.) Add frozen peas and remove from heat.

Purée soup in three batches in a blender until completely smooth. Return to pot. Add 2 tbsps. of lemon juice, cream, and just a pinch or two of cayenne pepper. Season generously with salt and additional lemon juice to taste. Serve, garnishing each bowl with a few of the reserved asparagus tips.

Ostesmørbrød med hvit geitost, soltørkende tomater og oliven

Toasted Goat Cheese Sandwiches with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Olives

Makes 4 sandwiches

Toasted goat cheese sandwiches with sun-dried tomatoes and olives

By Kristi Bissell

8 slices of rustic country or sourdough bread

4- to 6-ounce package of herbed goat cheese

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped

A good handful of olives (I used a mix of green and black Greek olives), pitted if necessary

Butter for spreading

Here’s how you make it:

Spread goat cheese onto 4 slices of the bread.

Sprinkle sun-dried tomatoes and olives over goat cheese.

Cover with a second slice of bread.

Butter the sides of the bread that are facing the outside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sandwiches and cook until they are toasty brown and cheese is warm and melted, flipping occasionally, and pressing down with the back of a spatula to ensure that the buttered bread is m

This article originally appeared in the March 18, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Kristi Bissell

Kristi Bissell is the founder of True North Kitchen, a Nordic food blog designed for the American home cook. She enjoys creating recipes that celebrate her Scandinavian heritage and that approach traditional Nordic ingredients in a modern, fresh and approachable way. Kristi is a native of Minneapolis and currently resides in Omaha, Neb. When she’s not cooking and baking in her cozy kitchen, Kristi teaches private and corporate yoga classes and leads Scandinavian cooking and baking workshops. For more information, visit her blog, www.true-north-kitchen.com.