The sinister underside to Louisiana’s otherwise perfect spring is pollen — and that stuff is about to kill me! Recently sprouted leaves on our neighborhood’s famed oak trees are now layered with fuzzy clumps of oak pollen that give the trees a yellowish sheen. Stand near one long enough and you see pollen dust falling like evil snow. It’s all over our cars and streets. There. Is. No. Escape.
Most years, this isn’t a big deal to me, but I must be getting old and intolerant because being outside makes my head feel like an oversized melon.
Only one thing to do – make a spring soup.
I wanted a clean-tasting soup — something with leeks (one of my favorite soup ingredients) healthy vegetables, chicken and some kind of starch. Wontons seemed like a fun idea. This soup came together nicely, and was made even better with fresh herbs and a little squirt of lemon just before serving.
If you use prepared stock and leftover chicken, this is also a really fast weeknight recipe. Hope you enjoy, and adapt as you see fit.
Chicken & vegetable soup with wontons
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cleaned leeks, mostly white parts sliced in half longwise, then sliced into thin slivers
1 cup chopped celery, leaves included
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups sliced and quartered zucchini
1 cup green peas, fresh or thawed frozen
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
12 oz. frozen wontons, preferably chicken or vegetable
(Substitution: 2 cups cooked white, brown or wild rice, or 1 cup small dried pasta)
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
Fresh lemon wedges and cilantro for serving
Heat olive oil to medium high. Add leeks and celery and sauté for about five minutes or until soft.
Add garlic and sauté one more minute. Add chicken stock and bring to boil. Add zucchini, peas, chicken and wontons and allow liquid to return to gentle boil.
Simmer for about 5-7 minutes. Vegetables should be tender but not too soft. Turn off heat and stir in fresh ginger.
To serve, add a few squirts of fresh lemon juice to each bowl along with fresh cilantro. And if your nose is really stopped up, slices of fresh jalapeño are also tasty.