Creamy, Dairy-free Asparagus Soup Recipe and Video

Creamy, Dairy-Free Asparagus Soup | Pamela Salzman
Creamy, Dairy-Free Asparagus Soup | Pamela Salzman
Photography by Morgan Pansing

I remember growing up in New York and feeling gipped when Spring rolled around.  Why?  Because 90% of the time it was still cold!   My parents told me that last Saturday it was snowing.  Brrrrrr!  Sort of doesn’t really match the image I used to have of spring — lying under a flowering tree, daffodils and tulips under a sunny sky.  I’d rather hunker down with a bowl of hot soup wearing a beanie and not a bonnet.

woody ends in a pot for asparagus stock

But nature is giving us some new foods to enjoy, to help us detoxify all the stuff weighing us down from winter.  I’ve been making mostly thick and hearty meal-in-a-bowl soups like lentil or mushroom-barley.  But I saw gorgeous green local asparagus at the farmer’s market the other day and jumped for joy.  And then I made asparagus soup!  Since the season is so short, I will prepare it at least once a week until I see the words “from Mexico” and then it’s adios asparagus!

a little lemon peel gives the soup a really nice bright flavor

ingredients

Believe it or not, asparagus is a total powerhouse vegetable.  It is rich in antioxidants which protect against free radical damage. Asparagus also contains high amounts of histones, folic acid, and nucleic acid, which boost the immune system.  It contains high levels of the amino acid asparagine, which serves as a natural diuretic, and increased urination not only releases fluid but helps rid the body of excess salts. This is especially beneficial for people who suffer from edema (an accumulation of fluids in the body’s tissues) and those who have high blood pressure or other heart-related diseases.  And it is a particularly rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds. This is why eating asparagus may help protect against and fight certain forms of cancer, such as bone, breast, colon, larynx and lung cancers.

looks weird, but after you puree it, it tastes delicious!

This creamy soup is so lovely and EASY.  Easy enough to make tonight on a moment’s notice and special enough to serve for your holiday luncheon or dinner.  Guess what?  Passover is next Monday night and Easter is in less than two weeks.  Time to get those menus in order!  This soup is perfect and of course, it gets its creaminess not from dairy, but from one of my favorite non-dairy tricks, oats!  Crazy, right?  You cook rolled oats with the asparagus and puree everything to a thick and silky creaminess which tastes nothing of oats and only fresh asparagus!  If you need this soup to be Passover-friendly, you can substitute 1 pound of Yukon Gold potatoes for the oats.

puree with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender

I have made this soup with all vegetable broth and it was terrific.  I tried it will all chicken stock and I thought it was a little too chicken-y.  My favorite way is with half chicken stock and half asparagus stock — amazing!  What’s asparagus stock?  You take the woody ends from the bottom of the asparagus spears and simmer them in water until you have a lovely, delicately-flavored asparagus broth.  This would also be awesome for a vegetarian asparagus risotto!  (Easy-to-follow instructions are at the bottom of the recipe.)  Happy Spring!

Creamy, Dairy-Free Asparagus Soup | Pamela Salzman

Creamy, Dairy-Free Asparagus Soup | Pamela Salzman

4.9 from 7 reviews
Creamy, Dairy-free Asparagus Soup
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoon unrefined olive oil, unsalted butter or unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats (check label for gluten-free)
  • 2 bunches of asparagus, about 2 pounds, woody ends trimmed* and stalks cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 cups water (or asparagus stock – see note at bottom of recipe)
  • 1 large piece of lemon peel, about 2 inches
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (more if you use unsalted stock)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until tender and translucent, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot. Bring soup to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cover pot and cook for 10 -15 minutes until asparagus is very tender.
  4. Turn off heat and remove the lemon peel. Or for a more assertive lemon flavor, blend the peel or half the peel with the soup. Puree the soup until smooth, either directly in the pot with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender (keep the lid open a crack.)Ideas for garnishes: steamed asparagus tips, garlic croutons, shaved Pecorino-Romano cheese or chopped chives.
Notes
*Save the ends for vegetable stock (recipe here) or boil the ends in 3 cups of water for 20-30 minutes for an asparagus stock. This should yield approximately 2 cups of asparagus stock, but measure anyway.

 

 

 

Creamy, Dairy-Free Asparagus Soup | Pamela Salzman

Broccoli stalk soup recipe

This month I’ve been teaching a broccoli and cauliflower stir-fry in my classes.  I am using only the florets since I know the stalks aren’t as popular in my house.  It’s all very well and good, except for the fact that I’ve been left at the end of each week with a heck of a lot of broccoli stalks.  I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that I am a compulsive use-everything-you’ve-got kind of a cook.  I absolutely hate to waste food!  In fact, I started a tradition in the house called “Frittata Fridays.”  That’s when I pull together bits of leftovers and random vegetables and turn them into breakfast.  Everyone’s happy!

So in order to not throw away the perfectly good broccoli stalks, I have been juicing lots of them into our juices.  But there’s only so much of that I can take.  What else could I use them for?   On a whim I decided to see if I could turn the stalks in a pureed soup like my Cauliflower and Roasted Garlic Soup, which is one of my absolute favorites.  My biggest concern was that the stalks wouldn’t have enough flavor and the soup would taste like nothing — WRONG!  It was delicious.  Warm, rich, creamy and using one of my favorite soup-thickening techniques (cooking and pureeing Yukon Gold potatoes with the soup), it tasted like there was lots of cream or butter when there was none.

Nutritionally speaking, the stalks are quite comparable to the florets, which is awesome since broccoli is once of those super foods you should be eating a lot of (and not throwing into the garbage!)  In fact, I’m big on the whole cruciferous family of vegetables which includes all the cabbages, kale, bok choy, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, collard greens and more.  These vegetables contain incredible amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, cancer-fighting compounds, and even protein.  Load up, people!

I enjoyed this soup straight away with an extra pinch of flaky sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  My husband stirred into his bowl a big pinch of shredded raw cheddar cheese and thought that was great.  For the girls, I made them grilled raw cheddar cheese and kale pesto sandwiches on spelt bread and they loved dipping those into the soup.  Even Mr. Picky finished his entire bowl — plain of course, with absolutely nothing added.  This was a winner all around!

 

4.9 from 16 reviews
Broccoli Stalk Soup
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or unrefined cold-pressed olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 ¼ - 2 ½ pounds broccoli stalks, ends and any tough woody layers removed
  • 1 large Yukon Gold potato, about 8 ounces, peeled if desired and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 2-3 teaspoons sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter or warm the oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté, covered, until tender and translucent, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the broccoli, potato, stock and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and then lower to a simmer. Cook partially covered until potatoes and broccoli stalks are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Puree soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender. Taste for seasoning.
Notes
You can stir in shredded cheese before serving, garnish with grated Parmesan or Pecorino, top with grilled cheese croutons or chopped chives

 

 

Spring Green Minestrone

Spring Green Minestrone | Pamela Salzman

Spring Green Minestrone | Pamela Salzman

I had the best day on Saturday.  Where did I go?  Nowhere!  What did I do?  Nothing!  When was the last time you said you had the best time doing nothing?  I know!  Sometimes I feel like my life is like a runaway train. And although I enjoy its active pace, I wish I took more time to sloooooow down.  This past Saturday was going to be more of the same — squeezing in a workout, a big farmer’s market shop for my classes, watching Mr. Picky’s soccer and baseball games, and chauffeurring the girls here and there.  But the universe gave me a big gift in the form of a torrential rain storm and everything was canceled.  Thank you, thank you!

Mr. Picky stayed in his pajamas until 1:00 in the afternoon.  I read more of the newspaper than just the front page.  Daughter #1 and her adorable friend who spent the night would have normally met friends in town for breakfast, but hung around with us instead.  They played as much One Direction music as we could take, baked a cake, and photographed every move for their 2,000 Facebook “friends” to enjoy.  One thing for sure, I knew I would be making soup.  I had an extra bunch of asparagus from Friday’s class, white beans and peas in the freezer, and a small bag of spinach.  I had the makings of one of my favorites, Spring Green Minestrone.  This is the soup I make whenever Spring rolls around.  As much as I love hearty, chunky soups and stews, I like to leave those to the winter.  Lighter, fresher soups appeal to me now, but ones which still have the ability to warm me up.  And the combination of white beans and peas amounts to a complete protein, so I feel satisfied enough to eat this as a meal.  But it’s all that GREEN that really makes me feel nourished.

The ingredients in this soup look like they couldn’t amount to anything special — there’s no secret ingredient, no flavor boosters.  I’m even surprised when it turns out delicious.  And the recipe is so dead simple, you have no excuse NOT to make your vegetable stock from scratch.  This soup was one of the first cooked vegetable dishes that Mr. Picky actually ate a normal portion of.  Saturday was no different.   He dropped a piece of sourdough toast in his soup and ate every last pea.  My husband poured the usual Pecorino in his.  As for me, I embraced my bowl of springtime au naturel — perfect in its simplicity and which I ate really slooowly.  I needed to make this special day last.  Because although I heard it would rain again on Sunday, I knew that the chances of that happening were about as good as my kids getting a Coke with their lunch.  And sure enough, Sunday’s sunshine came with places to be and things to do, but I got back on the train rejuvenated and restored and ready for it all.

Spring Green Minestrone | Pamela Salzman

Spring Green Minestrone
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, washed well, white and light green parts sliced thinly
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen green peas
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or light chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 ½ cups cooked white beans, such as Cannellini or Great Northern, or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (more if your stock is unsalted)
  • 4 ounces baby spinach leaves
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another 2 minutes.
  2. Add the asparagus, peas and parsley and toss to coat with the oil, leeks and garlic. Pour in the stock, white beans, and sea salt. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered until the asparagus is just tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the spinach leaves and taste for seasoning. Don't be disappointed, but that's all you have to do!
Notes
If you make your own stock, use the tops of your leeks and the woody ends from the asparagus that you might be inclined to compost or throw away.