Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Creamy Asparagus Soup, "Hempeh", and Tropical Quinoa

On the cruise last week, I was surprised when a creamy asparagus soup was served and - my daughter liked it! She had until then always said she didn't like asparagus. Back in 2010, I had made a version of a published asparagus soup recipe and decided to try coming up with another version of a creamy asparagus. Here is what I did.

  • Approx. one dozen spears of asparagus, any hardened/white ends removed (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 medium onion roughly cut into maybe 3/4" thick half moons (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 3 leaves kale, stems intact
  • 1t peeled ginger
  • Approx. 1/3 of a Meyer lemon, any easily removable seeds discarded (composted) (alternatively, if Meyer lemon isn't available, 2T lemon or lime juice)
  • 1/8 t each of dried oregano and dill
  • 1/2 t (or to taste) salt
  • 1 cup water
  1. On a cast iron pan at medium heat with no added oil, I gently cooked the asparagus and onion, stirring occasionally, for maybe 7-10 minutes till softened and slightly carmelized.
  2. I put all of the ingredients into my VitaMix blender and blended. I tried it once homogenized and tweaked the seasoning (in particular, I originally had just squeezed the Meyer lemon but was delighted to find that the peel is not bitter, so included it), then let it go on high for several minutes till hot (this is a nice feature of my VitaMix; for other blenders, it may be worth homogenizing and then putting the soup into a pan to heat).
Though it's expensive, we like, as I described in early January when we first tried it, Smiling Hara brand smoked salt and pepper peanut "hempeh". We bought some more this week, and I simply sliced it and sauteed it on the same cast iron pan after the asparagus was done. Some prepared quinoa with coconut and mango that I had purchased already prepared from Whole Foods Market completed the meal.

The soup was good but I didn't like a slight bitter flavor that I think the kale stems contributed. We should buy this "hempeh" more often! I am so happy about the revelation of including Meyer lemon skins in cooking; now that I have also found an organic source (Weaver Street Market cooperative), I can better justify the higher cost than (organic or conventional) lime or lemon as the peel is "appealing" :-) .

In the Food for Life program that I teach for, we recommend 10% fat calories, with, as a rule of thumb, no one dish having more than about 3g of fat. 1/2 cup of cashews has about 30g of fat; we had some leftovers, so let's call it about 8g of fat per our three servings, so I won't call this even an almost-no-added-fat meal.

Ideas for the future

I should try another batch of soup, but decrease the cashew (to reduce fat - the soup was quite thick and could have been thinner), maybe add a little "heat" like jalapeno (for batches not for my daughter), and omit kale stems. I am excited about Meyer lemon peel!

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