Tag Archives: soup

Magic

I recently purchased the most magical kitchen tool. Actually, to be fair, I purchased several magical kitchen tools, thanks to my parents, who generously gave me a gift certificate to Kitchen Outfitters, a wonderland located in Acton, MA, where all of your dreams come true, if your dreams involve extremely fancy knives and potholders made of silicone. (Full disclosure: said gift certificate was my birthday present two years ago. Sometimes it takes me a long time to get on with things.)

In any case, I bought many wonderful tools, but the one that’s captured my heart is my immersion blender. Also known as a stick blender, this nifty little machine lets you blend, chop, or whip liquids right in the container they’re already in. What’s the big deal about that, you might ask?

Well, it means that with no need to pour things from container to container, it’s considerably easier to make things like pureed soups without pouring boiling chicken stock down your legs. I’d consider that a win.

It’s particularly timely because this year I’ve gotten really into making squash soup. I’ve always liked it, but until recently had never found a recipe I really, really loved for home use. One, with apples, was a bit too sweet. Another, thickened with yogurt, was too tangy. They were all pretty good, but they weren’t that Platonic squash soup of my dreams.

And then I discovered this.

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Squash, en route to being soup.

It’s six ingredients, if you even count salt and pepper, which I barely do. It’s basically extra-mashed cooked squash. How could this be the ultimate squash soup?

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Golden and delicious.

I don’t know, but it manages. It might be the homemade chicken stock. It might be the freshly grated nutmeg. It might be that the squash we have right now is really, really excellent.

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So rich!

Whatever it is, this soup is GOOD. Rich and creamy, sweet and savory, it is everything a squash soup should be. I gussied it up with some bacon and homemade croutons, but it was starting with near perfection, so that was practically gilding the lily.

And I owe it all to my magical immersion blender, without which I’d never have gotten the right texture. So easy, and no mess – thanks mom, dad, and Kitchen Outfitters!

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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!