Lunch Today: Spring Soup with Asparagus and Peas

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asparagus soup aOther than maple syrup, asparagus and peas are some of my favorite springtime produce. Their bright green color and fresh mild flavors really start to make me feel like spring is here! Although nothing beats fresh peas right out of the pod or lightly steamed fresh asparagus, this spring soup may be a close second.

Asparagus is high in folate and prebiotics as well as vitamin K, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, vitamins A, C, B and E, and the phytochemicals beta-carotene and chlorophyll. Talk about a superfood! And peas are no slouch in the nutrition department. These legumes are a rich source of protein, iron, calcium, zinc, B vitamins and fiber. Although this recipe is not vegan, you can easily swap out the Greek yogurt for your favorite non-dairy alternative.

Spring Soup with Asparagus and Peas

• 2 lbs fresh asparagus
• 1 bunch green onions, including tops
• 3  tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra if needed
• 2 large garlic cloves, smashed and minced
• 1/2 cup shucked fresh peas, or frozen, thawed
• 2 cups vegetable stock
• 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
• 1/4 tsp  sea salt
• 1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
• 2 Tbsp each of chopped fresh mint and cilantro
• Freshly ground black pepper

Trim off about 1 inch of the asparagus tips from the stalks and place the tips in a large pot of boiling water. Blanch the asparagus tips for 30 seconds and plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside. (Leave 2 or three full stalks for garnish)

Coarsely chop asparagus stalks and blanch in boiling water until bright green and tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Trim root ends from the green onions. Chop half the green onions. Reserve remaining trimmed onions.

In a large saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp oil and add chopped green onions and garlic and sauté until soft. Make sure to not brown the onions and garlic. Add fresh peas and stir together until peas are softened and bright green. Add a splash more olive oil if needed. If using thawed frozen peas, you can just give them a quick toss with the onion and garlic mixture. Transfer pea  mixture to a high-speed blender and add cooked asparagus tips, stalks, and stock. Blend at high speed until smooth. Blend in yogurt until creamy.

Once smooth, return the creamy mixture to a clean saucepan. Gently heat, stirring until hot but not boiling. Cover and set aside.

In a frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add remaining green onions and lemon juice and season with salt. Stir-fry until soft and lightly golden. Slice or shave the 2 or 3 remaining whole asparagus spears lengthwise and add, stirring gently just until bright green.

To serve, ladle into bowls and top each with a couple of sautéed green onions and strips of sautéed asparagus. Sprinkle with some chopped fresh mint and cilantro and freshly ground black pepper.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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February 2023