Wednesday, February 16, 2011

99 Ranch Market soup with snow pea shoots and garlic chives

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Yesterday, when I posted my new take on pasta primavera, my good friend Greg from Sippity Sup told me I had spring fever. He's right. I've got green on the brain. Lucky for me spring comes early in southern California and sticks around a good long time.

This weekend, while the kids were visiting their grandparents, Michael and I spent a whole day...doing errands. Not what you thought I was going to say, huh? Hey, I'm old and tired. I'd been sick all week. A day of errands took all the energy I had. Also, we like doing errands together. We've spent many a date night driving from bookstore to grocery store to hardware store. It's unexpectedly intimate.

Our Saturday included:
  • the tailor, who had altered the first suit I've owned in 15 years; 
  • brunch at Grub in Hollywood, home of the best tuna melt in Los Angeles; 
  • a rug warehouse in the valley, where we looked for something to cover the new hardwood in our hallway; 
  • Ikea, where I got a $20 desk for my work-at-home days (and we ate Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce); 
  • and dinner at Din Tai Fung Dumpling House in Arcadia, where it took me a few tries to get the hang of sucking the liquid out of their famous soup dumplings. Sorry, shirt.
While we were in the valley, we slipped into 99 Ranch Market, one of my favorite grocery experiences ever. If you like Asian food at all, this is the place you want to be. I headed right for the produce section and picked up a huge bunch of garlic chives and a fat bag of snow pea shoots. These thin sprouts - the actual young plants, cut before the fruit sets - are a sure sign of spring. They arrived home after six hours in the trunk a little wilted but otherwise happy.

Normally you find snow pea shoots in Chinese restaurants, stir-fried in a delicate sauce with garlic, ginger, chicken broth and maybe a little sesame oil. Instead, I made soup. I simmered the snow pea sprouts and the garlic chives in chicken broth, pureed and strained the mixture, and floated drops of sesame oil on top. The bright green broth tasted like hot water spiked with green peas, fresh and clear and clean. Emery, my 12-year-old, had three bowls and insisted I put some in his lunchbox tomorrow. He says it will be good cold. Who am I to argue?

99 Ranch Market soup with snow pea shoots and garlic chives
  • 1 large bunch garlic chives, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 pound snow pea shoots, washed and roughly chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil (or hot chili sesame oil, if you prefer)
Put the vegetables and chicken broth in a large pot over medium heat. Simmer about 10 minutes, until the vegetables have softened but are still bright green - do not overcook them or you'll lose that fresh, clean flavor. Puree the soup with a hand-held immersion blender. I was not able to get it completely smooth, so I pushed the soup through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the fibrous parts.

Add the soy sauce - you may need a little more, depending on how salty your broth was. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and drizzle each bowl with the sesame oil. Serve very hot. 

The amazing tuna melt at Grub in Hollywood


Lana said...

I liked how you "slipped" into 99 Ranch Market! I plan a whole weekend for that store! Kidding, but I have never spent less than three hours there.

First it was garlic chives, now snow pea shoots... I've never had those, but they sound like the epitome of spring. And who can have too many soup recipes in their cookbook?

Emery said...

I was right, too. It was really good cold.

Lentil Breakdown said...

I just ate at Grub for the first time a couple of weeks ago for b-fast. The croissant french toast was amazing, but the pancakes were a major disappointment. They were paper-thin like crepes with no flavor, yet had some accolade claiming they were voted the best pancakes in L.A. But I would definitely try the french toast on a day you can feel guiltless for eating a 2000 calorie breakfast.

Nancy said...

I love roaming around 99 Ranch!!! As for your Saturday, it sounds perfect to me - seems like that is what us "old married folks" do!!

The soup sounds lovely - simple and fresh.. what could be better!!!

Candace said...

Thank you for this recipe! I have just moved from Louisiana to New Hampshire and actually saw pea shoots in the grocery store the other day. Now I know what to do with them! If I could only find garlic chives, I would be all set. Your soup looks so delicious and so healthy. I would love to have some of it soon. Your Saturday sounds like the best kind of day. My husband and I spend some of our favorite days together that way. Have a wonderful weekend, Candace

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

I am so ready for spring and for my garden and for the farmer's market....


This soup looks absolutely lovely, so simple. Perfect for a spring afternoon....


Erika Kerekes said...

@Lana @Nancy - I never have enough time at 99 Ranch. I could spend all day there, too.

@Emery - you are a genius for suggesting it!

@Lentil - sorry you didn't like the pancakes. I'm not a sweets-in-the-morning person so I've never tried them. My husband had the French toast breakfast sandwich thing and it was amazing. I stand by the tuna melt. I wrote about Grub's French toast a while ago:

@Candace - use a little garlic plus regular chives, which you should be able to find in the normal grocery store. Or just use onion, although the soup will not be as green.

@Rocky - that's one really great thing about southern California. It's spring, more or less, all year long.

Monet said...

I have Spring fever too! In Colorado, Spring didn't come until May, but here in Texas...we're already seeing buds blooming. Yay! Thank you for sharing this delicious soup with me tonight! I hope you have a great weekend, my dear.

Amy said...

I made this tonight. Since I didn't have garlic chives or even chives... I used two cloves of garlic and a small onion. Lovely! I would totally make this again. I may make this vegetarian next time though :) just so more of my friends can try it!

Erika Kerekes said...

@Amy garlic and onion sounds like a good substitute. Where did you get your pea shoots?

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