Sunday, September 14, 2014

Soups Good Bad and Ugly [but really good]: 2 Asparagus Soups and One Beet Soup

Each of these soups I tried both hot and cold. I'm not always sold on cold soups, but it's been so hot here that I had to try, with ambivalence.

This has been the summer of green soups. In trying different ones, I realize that a few choices can produce a huge variety of soups:

  • just asparagus, or bulk up with another veggie? Or no asparagus at all and only use milder vegetables?
  • roast or sautee the vegetables?
  • cashew cream? coconut cream? neither?
  • herbs - mint, cilantro, dill, basil? brighten up with citrus as well/instead?
This soup, adapted from seitan is my motor, is the first of several. Because of what I had on hand, I used cilantro and dried mint instead of basil, and cashew cream instead of coconut cream.

Simple Asparagus and Pea Soup 
(adapted from seitan is my motor)

1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
14.1 oz green asparagus, chopped
7 oz. frozen green peas
3 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup cashew cream
2 TB chopped fresh cilantro
1 TB dried mint
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large pot. Add onion and fry for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and fry for 1-2 more minutes.
2. Place asparagus, peas and broth in the pot and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Add cashew cream and stir until dissolved. Place in a blender together with herbs and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot or chilled. Serves about 3. 


Then there was this beet soup. Why was it not good?? There were oven-roasted beets, soaked cashews, onion, garlic... but I think I got a bit too adventurous, or rather, I tried to go on three different adventures at once. Maybe if it were thinner. Maybe if I hadn't used ginger and worcestershire sauce and lime juice. But it looked so pretty!


But this next soup, a recipe from vegan richa, was really, really good. It was a bit thinner than the top soup, which I think makes it feel more delicate and less cloying. My mom and I also found grilled asparagus in the freezer section at Trader Joes (in NC; I haven't seen it in LA), which made this recipe a breeze to pull together. Because the asparagus was roasted but the garlic and onions weren't, we had to change up the method a little bit.

Roasted Asparagus Soup with Dill and Basil
(adapted from vegan richa)

14-16 asparagus spears, roasted and cut into 1-in pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 white or red onion, sliced
oil, salt and pepper as needed
1/2 cup soaked cashews or 1/2 cup cashew cream
2 cups water or vegetable broth
1/2 tsp dried dill or 2 tsp fresh dill
1/4 cup packed basil leaves
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt or taste
2 tsp nutritional yeast
a very generous dash of black pepper

1. In a large pot, sautee the onions and garlic. Add the asparagus, give a few stirs, and then turn off the heat.
2. Blend sauteed vegetables with the cashews, broth, dill, basil, olive oil, salt and nutritional yeast.
3. Add blended puree to a pan and heat at medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Stir frequently. 8 - 10 minutes.
4. Taste and adjust salt. Add more water/broth if needed for desired consistency.
5. Garnish with cashew cream and black pepper. Serves about 3.

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