Spring is inevitably exciting. Flowers bloom, leaves unfurl, and the farmer’s markets come to live with an incredible range of vegetables we’d all but forgotten about. Ramps, or wild leeks, are the forager and restaurateur’s dream, with a satisfyingly crispy bulb dangling from some green and garlicky leaves. My kindergarteners were harder to please. Already skeptical of alliums since onions make their eyes water and garlic makes their hands smell, they surveyed the ramps I brought into class with a begrudging allowance.

“But how small do you want me to chop it?” Kid on ramp duty asked insistently, ready to get down to business. We’ve utilized them before, in the form of a mouthwatering New Potato and Ramp Soup.

Today, for our Spring Vegetable Pho, we were chopping the ramps up small, sauteeing the bulbs with some asparagus, and using the tender leaves as a garnish. The soup we concocted thoroughly from scratch, boiling some spices to make a broth and cooking the rice noodles and asparagus separately before combining everything into one delicious, gulpable bowl. Once the soup was assembled (which took under 45 minutes–these kids are efficient), we sat down to taste.

All but a couple of the students were thoroughly won over and begged for seconds. They love the sweet and savory nature of the broth, the smooth texture of the noodles, and even those spicy ramps on top.

Mis-en-place for pho. Broth on the upper left hand corner.

Mis-en-place for pho. Broth on the upper left hand corner.

Spring Vegetable Pho (adopted from Love and Lemons)

Serves 2 hungry adults or 6 picky children

  • 2 Star Anise
  •  1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 small onion, diced.
  • 1 2 in piece of fresh ginger, sliced.
  • 6 stalks of asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • 2 ramps, minced.
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 oz. rice noodles
  • Fresh basil, lime, mung bean sprouts, etc. (to garnish)
  1. Add the spices to a pan over low heat and stir until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  2. Add water, ginger, onions and garlic and simmer the broth for about 1/2 an hour.
  3. While the broth is simmering, put on a pot to boil for the noodles and prepare the rest of your ingredients.
  4. Cook the noodles according to package directions and set aside.
  5. Saute your asparagus and the bulbs of the ramps over medium heat, adding the tamari and rice vinegar.
  6. Combine asparagus, noodles, and broth in a large bowl.
  7. Ladle out desired portions and garnish with ramp leaves and fresh basil.

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