What’s Cooking: Spring is a fine time for soup

Szechwan carrot soup features Thai red curry paste and peanut butter.
Szechwan carrot soup features Thai red curry paste and peanut butter. The Los Angeles Times

Soup isn’t just for winter. Spring soups can feature any of the season’s wonderful young vegetables.

We’ve included three soups here that sing of spring: cookbook author’s Dorie Greenspan’s ginger-basil turkey meatball soup, a carrot soup with Szechwan spices, and nutritionist/cookbook author Ellie Krieger’s herbed green pea soup.

Krieger notes that her soup can be considered a mother recipe for dozens, if not hundreds, of vegetable soup variations:

“The basic technique for making it can be used to celebrate seasonal produce all year long. Start by sweating some aromatics in a little oil: onion, shallots, garlic, leeks and/or ginger. Then add the vegetable – I especially like cubes of butternut squash or cauliflower florets in the fall, zucchini in the summer, and broccoli year-round – plus chicken or vegetable broth, and simmer until the vegetable is tender.

“Toss in seasonings such as fresh or dried herbs, or spices such as curry or nutmeg, and salt and pepper; then puree until smooth.”

“It’s a surefire formula,” she says, “that is a springboard for all kinds of flavorful, healthful creations.”

Herbed green pea soup

Serves 4

Make ahead: The soup can be refrigerated (without the yogurt) for up 4 days. (To serve the soup chilled, refrigerate it for at least 2 hours.)

From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

21/2 cups no-salt-added chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon salt, or more as needed

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups fresh shelled peas or 10 ounces frozen/defrosted green peas

2 tablespoons packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish

2 teaspoons packed fresh tarragon leaves

2 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt, for garnish


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion; cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the broth, salt and pepper; increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.

Add the peas; cook fresh ones for 2 to 5 minutes, until they are tender; if you’re using frozen peas, cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until they are just warmed through. Remove from the heat; cool for 15 minutes, then stir in the parsley, the tablespoon of chives and the tarragon.

Use an immersion (stick) blender to purée the soup until smooth. If serving hot, reheat just until warmed through; if serving cold, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 4 days. Taste, and add salt as needed.

To serve, divide the soup among individual bowls; top each portion a swirl of yogurt and chopped chives.

Per serving: 110 calories; 5 g protein; 14 g carbohydrates; 4 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 340 mg sodium; 4 g dietary fiber; 6 g sugar .

Ginger-basil turkey meatball soup

Serves 4 to 6

Do not skip the extra step of cooking the soaked/drained rice noodles; otherwise, they tend to soak up the soup broth once all the ingredients are combined.

Make ahead: The meatballs can be cooked and refrigerated up to 4 days in advance, covered in some of their cooking broth. (Refrigerate the remaining broth separately.) The soaked/cooked noodles can be refrigerated a day in advance; reheat in warm water for 10 minutes before adding to the soup.)

From cookbook author Dorie Greenspan.


For the meatballs:

21/2 quarts homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth

2 large eggs

1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta, excess liquid drained

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots or onion, rinsed in cold water and patted dry

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (or cilantro)

1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs (see headnote)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger root

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound ground turkey, preferably organic (light or dark meat; may substitute chicken)

For the soup:

8 ounces dried rice noodles, such as Taste of Thai straight-cut thin rice noodles

4 cups chopped, sliced and/or shredded mixed vegetables, such as carrots, onions, mushrooms, cabbage (Napa or green), mustard greens, kale and spinach

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as cilantro, basil, parsley and/or mint, for serving

Sriracha (optional)

Soy sauce (optional)

Toasted sesame oil or olive oil, for serving (optional)


For the meatballs: Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low while you put the meatball mixture together.

Use a fork to break up and lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the ricotta, shallots or onion, basil, bread crumbs, garlic, ginger, lemon zest, salt and pepper, stirring to blend. Add the ground meat; use the fork and then your clean hands to turn and gently combine the mixture, which will be sticky.

Use a medium cookie scoop (one with a capacity of about 11/2 tablespoons) – my favorite tool for this – or a tablespoon measure to scoop out 24 to 30 portions. Roll them between your palms to shape into meatballs.

Uncover the pot of broth; drop in the meatballs, adjusting the heat as needed so the broth barely bubbles at the edges; cook for about 10 minutes, turning the meatballs over once, until cooked through. (Depending on the size of your pot, you might have to do this in batches.) Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meatballs to a large bowl.

After the meatballs are done, the broth will be a little murky. If you’d like it to be clearer (I always do), line a strainer with dampened cheesecloth (or a triple layer of dampened paper towels) and pour the broth through. Rinse out the pot and return the broth to it.

For the soup: Put the rice noodles in a large bowl and cover them with very hot tap water. Soak for 20 minutes, replacing the water after 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Just before you’re ready to serve the soup, drop in the soaked noodles; cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain. (This step will help prevent the noodles from absorbing too much of the soup broth.)

Meanwhile, reheat the broth over medium-high heat; once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium. Drop in the cooked meatballs; let them warm through for 5 minutes, then stir in the 4 cups of vegetables and cook for 5 minutes or until they are tender. (If you’re using carrots, they’ll remain slightly firm.) Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Divide the noodles among deep soup bowls. Ladle over the broth, meatballs and vegetables. Scatter the herbs on top, and, if you’d like, let everyone have a go at the Sriracha, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil or olive oil. Serve hot.

Per serving (based on 6): 390 calories, 26 g protein, 46 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 125 mg cholesterol, 620 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 7 g sugar

Beverly’s Szechwan carrot soup

Total time: 90 minutes

Serves 10 to 12

Adapted by the Los Angeles Times from Beverly’s at the Coeur d’Alene Resort on Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho. Find Thai red curry paste in the Asian food aisles.


1/4 cup sesame oil

2 pounds carrots, chopped

1 large onion, diced

2 tablespoons garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (from a roughly 4-inch piece)

1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste, more to taste

2 quarts chicken broth

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 quart heavy cream

Salt and pepper


In a heavy-bottomed stock pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat until hot. Stir in the carrots and onions, and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.

Stir in the ginger, red curry paste and chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree.

Add the coconut milk, peanut butter, sugar and cream, whisking until fully incorporated and smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and continue to cook until the soup thickens, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste.

Per serving, based on 12: 356 calories; 5 g protein; 22 g carb.; 3 fiber; 29 g fat (14g sat. fat); 58 mg cholesterol; 15 g sugar; 933 mg sodium