The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

Ginger-Lavender & 
Spring Vegetable Soup 

As with many things you go back and forth about exactly what may be your favorite
so and so...This is the case with this soup. Each and every time I prepare this I swear
that it is indeed my favorite soup of all time, then I make another and wonder. So
what I am going to say is that this soup is high on the favorites list...very high.

Aside from the heavenly taste that each bite awards your pallet with, is the aroma
oh my, absolutely indescribable. Now I would love to take credit for something so
wondrous, but in truth only nature can provide such a wonder. I did however place
them all together to be enjoyed as a soup :)

As with all of my soups there is a tea or herbal tea base and I will share here
the components of this tea, however you may have a favorite that would work
just as well. The list here are dry herbs and flowers along with a small amount of
white tea. These ingredients are added along with our fresh lavender and candied
ginger to create our spicy yet floral notes. Trust me when I say, unless you hate
lavender or ginger...this is an absolute must experience. The ingredients will be
listed in largest quantity first, but just use a pinch or so of what pleases you most.

The herb and flower tea mixture:
hibiscus flower
chamomile flowers
apple mint
black current
licorice root
cactus flower
orange rind
white tea

Note: If cooking over a long period of time avoid green or black teas,
and only use a small amount of white. As teas can produce a highly bitter
taste if cooking is prolonged. However if you are preparing a soup with
a faster cook time you will not get the full flavors, so I suggest preparing
as a tea by steeping 5-8 minutes in a cup of water then adding shortly
 prior to your dishes completion. This recipe is cooked over a longer
piriod of time so a small amount of white tea was used.

What you will need:
2-3 large shallots, roughly chopped
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons +1 teaspoon butter
(1 teaspoon for sauté)
6-8 sprigs of fresh lavender
(or 6-8 teaspoons dried lavender, crushed)
3-4 tablespoons dried herbal tea mixture
3 tablespoons candied ginger
3 quarts vegetable broth
2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon honey
12 ounces baby heirloom carrots, large dice
1 head celery, large dice
2 small medium heat peppers, dried
4 medium zucchini squash, large dice
2 yellow crookneck squash, large dice
3 ounces shiitake mushrooms, quartered
3-4 Roma tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons sea salt
5 quart stock or soup pot

A pinch each of the following dried herbs
or seasoning mix of choice
celery seed
mustard seed

Let's get cooking:
Now that you have everything chopped and chunky, start by sautéing your shallot
and garlic in a heated sauté pan with your teaspoon of oil and butter. Continue to
sauté until fragrant and shallots become opaque. Create your bouquet garni bags
with the tea mixture and lavender herbs. Add everything to your stock pot
except squashes and mushrooms. Cook on a medium heat until just boiling,
reduce heat to low and cover. Continue for about 2 hours or so or until
carrots and celery are just barely tender. Now...

Adding the mushrooms a squash about an hour to hour and a half
into the cooking process. Continuing to cook covered on low until
all vegetables are tender. Note: total cooking time can vary depending
on size of vegetables and cooking pot. Generally 3-5 hours on low, or
if using a slow cooler/crockpot about 8-10 hours.

Serves 6-8

Alisha~Magic of Spice

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