And soups are such a seasonal thing. That might be another reason I love them. I get in the mood for certain soups depending on what vegetables are in season. In the fall I want the comfort of root vegetables, whether creamed or made into hearty stews. Winters are for 15 bean soup, chili, or ham and bean. In the summer I want light soups like cold soups made from cucumbers or watermelon or gazpacho.
Well, it's Spring in Ohio which means there is an abundance of asparagus at the grocery stores. So when it finally goes on sale for $1.99/lb., I snatch a couple bunches up to make my famous cream of asparagus soup.
This soup is sooooo simple to make and leaves a lot of flexibility for making it your own, whether you are vegetarian or vegan, whether you want the soup to be a simple first course or a light meal accompanied with salad and a thick piece of crusty bread.
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 Cups sliced fresh mushrooms, lightly sauteed (optional)
6 Cups stock (if you're vegetarian, then all vegetable stock, if not, I combine chicken and veggie stock)
good curry seasoning
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 Cup of evaporated milk (if you're vegan, replace vanilla and milk with 1/2 Cup vanilla soy milk; it makes it oh so yummy!)
salt and pepper
There really isn't much to this soup . . . that is, besides prepping the asparagus. But don't be daunted by this task, it will make the soup so much smoother if you do it.
I use the thicker asparagus for this dish because I want some meaty stalks in order to make this soup thick and rich. But thick asparagus has stringy skin, so I need to peel it. I know it's a pain, but it is totally worth it so take the time to do it. You'll be happy you did. Then I chop the asparagus into 1/2 inch to 1 inch pieces, reserving the tips and setting them aside. The asparagus tips will be added much later so that there are pieces of asparagus to bite into.
About halfway through that cooking time, whatever it is, I add the curry. I can't tell you how much curry to add. Dried curry seasonings vary so much depending on where they come from. Some are hotter; some are spicier. I start with a heaping teaspoon full and then start tasting it and adding more til i get it where I want it. Some people don't like a lot of curry. But since it is the primary (almost exclusive) spice in the soup, I like to be generous with the curry.
Once the asparagus is cooked til its mush, it's time to use the hand blender on it to smooth out all the asparagus chunks.
This is the point at which you want to TASTE YOUR SOUP! Tasting soups is essential to making good soup. If the soup doesn't taste good at this point, it never will, so make sure you're where you want to be with curry, salt and pepper right now before going forward.
Then it's time to add the asparagus and sauteed mushrooms. I add mushrooms to this soup when I want to make this soup a little heartier. This time I used baby portabella mushrooms. I have used shitake mushrooms or chopped portabella mushrooms. If I decide I'm adding mushrooms, I usually put in a good boatload of them so the soup is hearty. But the soup DOES NOT NEED MUSHROOMS! It is so rich and delicious, it can stand on its own with just the tops of the asparagus.
It only takes 5 minutes of simmering or cooking for the asparagus tips to become tender. As soon as that happens, I add the evaporated milk and vanilla. I know it's not much milk, but the asparagus makes this soup so rich to begin with, you don't need much. The vanilla just adds another layer of richness to this soup. The vegan option of vanilla soy milk works really well too. The first time I made this soup, I used vanilla soy milk cuz it's all I had in the frig at the time, and it turned out delicious.
This soup is a favorite of my mom. So I ladled some into a container with a lid and drove over to her house so she'd have some for her dinner.
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