Spring is a natural time of detoxification. Of rebirth and renewal. Mother nature uses this time to give us bitter, pungeant, incredibly detoxifying veggies. Think aspargus, nettles, fiddlehead ferns, and ramps, a powerful-smelling wild leek that is outrageously cleansing.

If you’ve ever walked through a farmer’s market during the spring, you’ve probably smelled ramps. These grassy-topped members of the onion family are so robust-smelling (and tasting) that you can easily smell them yards away. But with their strong presence comes generous quantities of a number of potent antioxidants. In fact, ramps are such nutritional rockstars that it is worth eating them a couple times a week through the spring. Your health will thank you.

But back to the nutrients: The sulfur compounds in ramps can help lower blood pressure and inhibit tumor growth. Polyphenols and flavonoids reduce inflammation by preventing the oxidation of fatty acids in the body while also acting as a natural antihistamine (great for you allergy sufferers!) and toxin remover. Ramps are also rich source of the trace mineral selenium, which studies have shown to reduce one’s risk of cancer.

So how to use this bold veggie? I like to take a bunch and chop the bulb and part of the stalk (up until the green leaf blades) and toss the veggie into stir-fries, sautes and veggie soups—basically anywhere I’d use onions, leeks, garlic or scallions. To grill whole ramps (delicious!), trim off the leafiest ends, brush the length of the veggie with extra virgin olive oil, and place directly on the grill, turning after about two or three minutes. Or, enjoy ramps in this easy, detoxifying soup!

Makes 4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ramps
  • 1/2 sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Optional Garnish: chopped pine nuts or walnuts

    1. Trim roots from ramps. Then trim away top 2 inches of greens from ramps.

    2. Coarsely chop ramp greens and set aside.

    3. Thinly slice ramp bulbs and white/pink part of the stalk and set aside.

    4. In large saucepan over medium heat, add oil, sliced ramp bulbs, onion, garlic, pepper and 1/2   teaspoon salt. Stir occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.

    5. Add broth and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until onions, ramps and garlic   are very soft, 20 minutes. Stir in ramp greens and boil 1 minute.

    6. Working in batches, purée soup in a blender until very silky smooth, about 1 minute per batch   (use caution when blending hot liquids. Strain out any solid material.

    7. Return to pot, adjust salt and add optional squeeze of lemon juice.

    8. Serve garnished with chopped pine nuts or walnuts.

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