Recipe of the Month!
Delight in Nature's First Born....Fiddlehead Soup
What is a Fiddlehead
The first time a fiddlehead touched my palate was four years ago at the Bryant Park Grille Restaurant in Bryant Park, New York City. As a side vegetable to the entrée ordered I was first struck by their appearance and totally hooked by their taste. At first I thought it was the creative work of a chef only to find out they are the creative work of nature. With each bite I needed to know the type of vegetable I was eating only to find out they are part of an ostrich fern.
A fiddlehead is the first growth of certain ferns. As a fern grows, each frond unrolls, growing upward, but in the earliest stages, it remains curled in a spiral shape, close to the ground, about an inch to two inches high.
Fiddlehead Fern Season
Fiddlehead fern season is welcome after the cold months of winter, and varies by geography. One of the many pleasures of early spring is the brief moment when fiddleheads, or fiddlehead fern greens, can be found. The timing has to be perfect, as the fiddlehead is a young unfurled frond of a fern. Wait too long into the spring season, and the fiddlehead will have already opened into one of the feathery fronds of a mature fern, and be inedible.
Since they are such a seasonal item, and they are not cultivated but only foraged in the wild, fiddlehead ferns are much loved among the food cognoscenti. It doesn’t hurt their reputation that they are tasty in a tender and crunchy way, and can be cooked in a variety of dishes. You can harvest fiddleheads for free if you know where to find them. Fiddlehead ferns can be found the lowland forests, in damp, shaded areas. Look for large ostrich ferns, which are about four feet high, during the rest of the growing season, and return to those spots in early spring to find the fiddleheads. These edible ferns grow prolifically in wild and wet areas near water throughout New England and eastern parts of Canada.
Also, you can often find fiddleheads at local farmers’ markets and health food stores but this short-lived delicacy can be pricey. If you can’t find fiddleheads, you could make this soup with fresh asparagus
Fiddlehead or Asparagus Soup
1-1/2 cups fiddleheads, cleaned and finely chopped plus ½ cup for garnish
2 tablespoons ghee or avocado oil
4 cups of Vegetable. broth
1 leek, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1” lemon peel
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Sauté cloves, leek and spices in oil.
Add Fiddleheads or Asparagus, lemon peel and vegetable broth
Bring to boil, cover and reduce heat and cook 20 – 30 minutes
Blend and serve with fiddleheads or asparagus for Garnish