Spring Recipes From Cooking Vacations:

Asparagus Soup
By Executive Chef Todd English


1 lb. asparagus blanched
1 onion sliced and sweated out
4 cups hot chicken stock
½ cup hot heavy cream
2 TBS. Extra virgin olive oil
1 TBS. Butter
½ cup chanterelle mushrooms
1 TBS. Chopped shallots
2 oz. brandy
2 TBS. Maine crab meat
1 TBS. julienne Basil

Place the asparagus, onions, stock, and cream in a blender and puree until smooth.  Add in 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil right before you are done with the puree process.  In a medium hot sauté pan sauté the mushrooms in the butter for one minute.  Add in the shallots and sauté for another minute. Add the brandy and cook off the alcohol.  Add in the crabmeat and basil.  Pour this ragu mixture in a bowl then pour the asparagus puree over the ragu.  Serve hot.


This simple soup has its roots in Tuscany and makes a perfect dish for those following the no-meat rule of Lent. Different versions call for different ingredients. For example, not everyone uses chard, and might prefer porcini mushrooms instead. Many prefer the addition of a handful of basil and some people leave out the eggs. Play around with the basic recipe until you find the version you prefer.
Ingredients for 6 people
3 medium onions, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely sliced
1 small chili pepper, finely sliced
1 kg baby Swiss chard,
500 g tomatoes, chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
6 stale slices bread
100 g grated pecorino (or Parmesan) cheese
6 eggs
Heat 8 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil in a terracotta pot, and cook the onions, celery and carrot for 10-15 minutes.  Remove the stems from the chard and cut into thin strips. Add to the pot, and toss with the vegetables until chard has wilted. Add the tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes. Then pour in about 1 ½ liters of boiling water and cook for another half hour. Adjust seasoning. Place a slice of stale bread in each of 6 soup plates. (You could rub bread with a little garlic if preferred.) In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and the grated cheese and divide evenly between the six soup plates. Pour over the boiling soup and serve immediately.

Easter Rabbit & Lemon Leaves

This is a pretty dish that is extremely simple to make but beautiful to behold. If you prefer, you could substitute the rabbit with chicken; either way it is delicious. And if you can’t find lemon leaves, substitute with vine leaves and add a little grated lemon zest to the marinade.

Ingredients for 4 - 6 people
1kg rabbit
Parsley, chopped
Handful of mixed fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, marjoram)
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
50g fresh homemade breadcrumbs
20 – 30 lemon leaves (taken straight from tree)
Cut the rabbit into small pieces (no need to de-bone if you don’t want to) and put in a bowl with the parsley, herbs, garlic, a good pinch of salt and a drizzling of olive oil. Mix well and leave to marinade overnight in the fridge.

Next day, wash the lemon leaves and dry. Roll the pieces of rabbit in the breadcrumbs. Take two lemon leaves and place one on top of the other, the first one placed horizontally the other vertically. Put a piece of rabbit in the middle, folding the leaves around it to form a small parcel shape. Secure the parcels with kitchen string. Continue until all the pieces of rabbit have been enclosed in lemon leaves. Place rabbit parcels in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with oil and cook in the oven at 180ºC for 1 – 1 ½ hours.

Serve straight from the oven with roast or baked potatoes, and savor the subtle lemony tang the leaves give to the rabbit.