Sunday, March 18, 2012

I love making soup!

I'm actually quite known for my soups. I've written a piece about it on my memoir blog called Soup's On because, to me, the act of making soup is an act of compassion and generosity, regardless of whether I'm making soup for myself or for someone else.

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.

2 bunches of asparagus (I don't know exactly how much asparagus is in each bunch; you can see in this pic that one bunch is a handful of asparagus)
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
nutmeg
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.

I saute the onions in some olive oil; olive oil just cuz it adds another layer of flavor.

Then I add all the stock at once and the chopped asparagus. Bring it up to a boil and lower it to simmer and cover it until the asparagus is cooked within an inch of its life. How long this takes depends on how fresh the asparagus is, how thick it is, etc. Keep an eye on it. When the asparagus pieces are literally falling apart on their own when you barely touch them with a wooden spoon, then it's done.

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.

As the asparagus and mushrooms are cooking, I grate fresh nutmeg over the soup. Why? Because anything with mushrooms deserves a little nutmeg.

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.

This post has been shared with the follow incredible sites:
Skip to My Lou Made by You Mondays
DIY Home Sweet Home More the Merrier Monday
Flour Me with Love Mix it up Monday
Creating My Way to Success A Round Tuit
Boogieboard Cottage Masterpiece Monday
Nifty Thrifty Things Nifty Thrifty Sunday
Cooking with Karyn Things That Make You Go Mmmmm!
C.R.A.F.T. Making Monday Marvelous
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Domestically Speaking Spring Linky Party

6 comments:

  1. This looks delicious! New follower from the Things that make you say Mmm...hop. I co-host the Creative Corner Hop every Monday. Feel free to stop by and link up. It will be open all week.

    Sandy
    Cherished Handmade Treasures

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    1. Thanks, Sandy! I'll hop on over and check you out.

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  2. MMM that sounds so good! almost lunchtime here too - wish I had some asparagus...


    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success
    http://www.jembellish.blogspot.com/

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  3. Hi I so love asparagus soup! : ) This is the first recipe I've seen that is really from scratch! Thanks so much for sharing. I'm a new follower and really like your blog; been surfing through your posts. I'd love it if you'd follow back and link up one of your projects or this recipe to my Frugal Treasures Tuesday party going on til Sunday. Hope you have a great weekend.

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    1. Done! I'm your latest follower, Barbe. Thanks for following me. And I'll put you on my list for linky parties. With your theme being "Frugal Treasures" how could I resist? Thanks again!

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