the perfect spring lunch

as the saying goes: when it rain's it pours. but here in seattle, the weather has brought out the freckles on my nose and tan lines on my back! however in my life, it's feels like it's pouring buckets of both exciting developments and challenging stress. 

... subbing a few too many yoga classes in addition to my usual 5 weekly classes and not finding time to practice for myself.
... taking on a couple new fabulous weekly clients for my private chef work but orchestrating a complicated scheduling puzzle.
... getting the final touches and designs together for my band's new album.
... planning the menu and testing recipes for a yoga retreat that departs in just a few weeks.
... managing a climbing injury, but still wanting to get outdoors to climb (i can't pass up on these wonderful conditions after a long season of wet rocks!)
... realizing that i need to get my act together if we're going to cape town south africa in just a few months but don't have any plane tickets or reservations yet.
... fitting everything in around some weekend trips to portland and austin (both rad cities, surprisingly very similar to each other!)
... sudden adult-onset allergies are destroying me, but i can't resist the outdoors in this glorious weather, so i've been putting off being indoors to do computer work and bookkeeping.
... and my cousin, who lives nearby and is like a brother to me, is having a baby like *today,* so i'm basically going to be an auntie any minute.

in summary... the side effects of having multiple passions in life, each progressing on their own meandering paths. 

last week i was helping a client use up all her random veggie leftovers from hosting an easter dinner. the resulting soup was so delicious, i went out and bought the ingredients for myself to recreate it at home. sometimes my favorite recipes are intuited from everything-but-the-kitchen-sink experimentation. 

today i'm taking a break from the pollen, hunkering down with my computer, and procrastinating with food blogging (which is exactly why this blog initially started back in college). productive procrastination. 

pureed asparagus, pesto & sweet potato soup ~ makes about 3 quarts 
1 medium yellow onion
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs asparagus
1 small bag baby spinach or 1 large bunch adult spinach, washed
1 small yellow/white sweet potato (about .75 lbs)
1 small bunch fresh basil
1 tablespoon (ideally) fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
juice of 1 lemon
salt + pepper to taste
1/2-1 cup raw pine nuts
homemade or store-bought pesto for garnish *optional
shaved parmesan for garnish *optional

crush garlic and set to side. thinly slice onions and saute in oil large soup pot until gently caramelized - about 10 minutes.

wash but don't peel the sweet potato. cut into tiny cubes for quick cooking. wash and trim asparagus and cut into inch-long pieces. once onions are cooked, add garlic, a good pinch of salt and cubed sweet potatoes. cover pot and let simmer on low for about 10 minutes until potatoes are soft.

then add oregano, asparagus, 1/2 cup pine nuts and just enough water that all vegetables are in water but not quite fully submerged. turn up the heat until water is boiling, then lower to simmer covered for another 3-5 minutes until asparagus is for tender but not too mushy.

remove soup pot from heat, add torn fresh basil, spinach and lemon juice. stir and cover until greens are wilted. just a few minutes.

blend in batches until smooth. adding a bit of water if necessary to reach desired consistency. adjust seasoning to taste - adding more lemon, salt and black pepper if you prefer.

garnish bowls of soup with shaved parmesan, a little drizzle of pesto if you have it on hand, or toasted pine nuts, some fresh basil, or all of the above! serve with some good bread & a fresh greens salad!

simple spring salad: 
butter lettuce
shaved carrot ribbons
thinly sliced radish
quick pickled red onion
lemon + local honey + olive oil
sea salt + black pepper

i've been trying to incorporate local honey into my daily routine to combat the allergies. a little drizzle with equal parts lemon juice and olive oil makes a bright flavorful dressing. to quick pickle red onions, just thinly slice any portion of red onion and submerge in unseasoned rice vinegar or white wine vinegar and wait at least 2 hours, or overnight. i shave the carrots with a vegetable peeler and a knife or mandoline to thinly slice radishes.

toss & munch!