Asparagus Therapy


Asparagus is a fascinating vegetable. Formerly classified as a lily, asparagus is now recognized as its own species – and ranges from the one we’re familiar with, the green (or white, or purple) spears with the tight little leaves, to leafy vines, to covered in thorns. Nutritionally asparagus is a powerhouse, a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc, as well as dietary fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium. You know, in case you’re low on your rutin. In the spring, there’s no finer vegetable – while asparagus is now available year round thanks to trucks and planes, its true season here in the North is pretty fleeting.

Most people I know steam asparagus – a preparation I enjoy but find a bit dull. This also runs the risk of being unpleasantly mushy if the person steaming isn’t diligent. My preferred preparations are either sauteed with garlic or roasted – this brings out the true sweetness of the vegetable, and the tips get amazingly crunchy and delicate. However, I recently found myself in the position of having two big bunches of asparagus and decided to try something new – asparagus soup!

There are thousands, if not millions, of recipes for asparagus soup out there, but I went with this one because – a. I had all of the necessary ingredients at home and b. it could easily be made vegetarian or vegan if I wanted to make it again (I didn’t make it either, since I used chicken stock in lieu of veggie stock, but you COULD do this. The chicken stock was in the freezer! Besides, I don’t have soy milk, yogurt, or cheese on hand either, so it was all going to be moot.)

You can click the link for the full recipe, but here’s what I did in pictures:

Simmer the asparagus briefly in a bit of stock with some onion. When they’re tender, remove and reserve some of the asparagus tips for garnish later. Try not to steam your fingerprints off.
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Put the rest of the veggies in the food processor. Now you are trying to avoid steaming your face off!
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Give them a nice whirl, until you have a pretty much entirely pureed batch of green goop.
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This was another reason to like this recipe – it didn’t have me pureeing with the liquid. If you lack an immersion blender, as I do, this is a relief.

Back in the pot it goes! Now you’re going to put in all the lemon and yogurt and milk and stock and whatnot. At first this will look unbearably gross, and then you’ll stir it all up and it will become a pleasant, slightly paler green.
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When you’re ready to serve it, throw on the tips and some parmesan cheese. If you would like to be extra decadent and have thrown the idea of a vegetarian soup out of the window, why not fry up some lardo and put that on there too? You will not be sorry you did this.
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This soup was delicious – creamy and slightly tangy from the yogurt and lemon. And now I have a new, potentially vegan-friendly asparagus recipe in my repertoire!

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