Spring is just around the corner.  In the spirit of springtime (which in San Diego starts in mid-February and includes things like “open water swims in the 55 degree Pacific), I created a Vegan “cream” of asparagus soup. I taught this to a culinary class yesterday and it was a hit. One student remarked that he would love to use it as a pasta sauce-sounds good to me!

First crop of Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1 Onion, peeled and small diced
  • 2 cloves or 1 tsp chopped Garlic
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil or Earth Balance
  • Optional-Water to steam and soften Onions and Garlic
  • 1 pound Asparagus, ends trimmed about 1-2 inches and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 Cups unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 2 Cups Water
  • ½ cup Cashews
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Cup Spinach
  • 2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 tsp Dried Thyme
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste

Why these ingredients?

Cashews when pureed provide a creaminess that is hard to achieve with just straight almond milk.  You could substitute all almond milk for the water and cashews or vice-versa. I’ve had the best luck with this combination.

Lemon Juice Brightens up the soup and brings out layers of complexity.  Whenever anyone tells me that a soup or sauce that they have made is “flat”, I tell him or her to add a little acid such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. This will balance and highlight the other nuances such as sweet, savory, bitter, aromatic, etc.

Nutritional Yeast is inactive dried yeast that has a cheesy, nutty, umami flavor.  Vegans love this stuff as it gives you a boost of Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Selenium and Zinc.  It is also Gluten-Free.  I frequently sprinkle it on to baked potatoes and popcorn. You can find it in the bulk bins of most healthy food stores.

Spinach a good rule of thumb is to sneak in a little extra green whenever the opportunity presents itself.  Because spinach hold its color when it is cooked and asparagus doesn’t; I like to add it in so that the soup isn’t drab.  This works for broccoli soup as well.

Preparation

  • In 4 quart pot, heat Olive Oil or Earth Balance Margarine
  • Saute Onions for three minutes
  • Add Garlic sauté for one minute
  • Splash pan with ¼ cup to ½ cup Water to soften onions
  • Add Asparagus and cook until bright green about 3-5 minutes depending on thickness of Aparagus
  • Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes
  • Transfer to high speed blender (A Vitamix works best)
  • Add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.  If you are using a Vitamix blender it will heat the soup after pureeing for 2-3 minutes
  • Garnish with Vegan Sour Cream, Lemon Zest and Chives

Note: If you chill and reheat the soup, you will notice that it will thicken from the addition of the Nutritional Yeast.  Thin it out with Vegetable Stock or Water

About that first open water swim of the season:  I joined a group from our Revolution Tri team for a swim in the La Jolla Cove.  Once I got past the initial seal stench, I embraced the beautiful (albeit cold) swim and we swam to the La Jolla Shores and back. Apparently I swam a little longer than the rest as I swam a not-so-straight line on the return. Thanks Gina, Dori, Tammy, Sabrina, Forrest and Randy–it was a blast!

Next up Oceanside 70.3 March 30th.