Celebrate the start of the spring foraging season with this creamy fiddlehead soup with chives. A perfect earthy flavored soup for those cool spring evenings.
This chowder like, soup takes advantage of the early spring harvest of ostrich fern fiddleheads and chives as they emerge from their winter slumber.
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One of the first spring foraging delicacies to emerge in New England is the ostrich fern fiddlehead. We have discovered several small patches on our property that we have been harvesting sustainably for several years.
- Ostrich fern fiddleheads (Matteuccia struthiopteris), grow wild in wet areas of northeastern North America in spring. They have an earthy, green flavor sometimes described as a combination of asparagus, spinach, and mushrooms.
- Common chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are one of the first herbs to push their spiky foliage out of the ground come spring. Chives self sow easily, so we can find clumps of wild chives growing all over our property in addition to the plants in our vegetable garden.
Tips for Harvesting and Preparing Fiddleheads
Positively Identify Fiddleheads: Make sure that you can properly identify the ostrich fern fiddleheads. Not all ferns are edible. Use several trustworthy foraging guides. If in doubt, purchase at your local farmers market instead of harvesting your own.
Harvesting Fiddleheads: Pick the emerging ostrich ferns when they are about two inches tall. Harvest less than half of the fiddleheads from each crown so you don’t stress the plant allowing it to grow and produce for years. Refrigerate your harvest as soon as possible to maintain freshness.
Cleaning Fiddleheads: First, place the fiddleheads in a colander and rinse thoroughly with clean water. Then submerge the rinsed fiddleheads in a bowl of cold water. Stir briskly to remove the brown papery skins. Rinse the fiddleheads well and drain. The brown papery skins can be stubborn. Repeat soaking and rinsing as needed until the fiddleheads are clean.
Safely Cooking Fiddleheads: No matter which recipe you are using, make sure to cook fiddleheads properly to avoid food borne illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests boiling or steaming for at least 10 minutes before consuming.
Steps for Making Fiddlehead Soup
Step 1: Prepare your ingredients
Rinse the fiddleheads, spring onions, and chives well under running water. Slice the spring onions and save the green tops to use for a garnish at serving time. Mince your garlic, and snip the chives into small pieces using kitchen shears. Peel the potato and cut into 1/4-inch cubes.
Step 2: Sauté the onion and garlic
Place a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the butter to the hot pan. When the butter is melted, add the sliced green onions and sauté until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic and cook about a minute more.
Step 3: Simmer the soup
Add the chicken stock and the bay leaf to the saucepan. Let it come to a boil, and then add the fiddleheads and diced potato. Lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
Step 4: Add the remaining ingredients and serve
Add the heavy cream, chives, salt, pepper, and simmer while stirring until slightly thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Ladle into bowls and garnish with reserved green onions. Enjoy!
Creamy Fiddlehead Soup with Chives
- 1 pound fresh ostrich fern fiddleheads
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 spring onions sliced (reserve green parts for garnish)
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 medium potato cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Rinse and clean fiddleheads well with cold water to remove the brown skin. Drain and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add the spring onions and sauté until fragrant and tender, about 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute more.
- Pour in the chicken stock, add the bay leaf, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Add the fiddleheads and potatoes. Lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Add the heavy cream, chives, salt, pepper, and simmer while stirring until slightly thickened. Serve warm and garnish with reserved green onions. Makes 6 main-dish servings.