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Cream of Asparagus Soup with Tomato-Basil Coulis

Cream of Asparagus Soup with Tomato-Basil Coulis
I have a special connection with fresh, local asparagus. My mother, who was raised in a faraway time (1920's and 30's) in a rural village in Ohio, was crazy for fresh asparagus. When I was a small child she'd take me as often as three times a week in asparagus season to a farm where you could pick your own. With a paring knife she carried in her purse in "picking season" and pails on loan from the farm we'd hike up and down the rows looking for the newest stalks. 

I'm not sure that as a little boy I appreciated the importance of what we were doing, or if I even liked asparagus (I remember being ambivalent -- not really liking it but at the same time respecting my mother's enthusiasm -- though I love it now) but I know that now, when spring arrives, I savor the memory of those late-afternoon farm stops with my mother, with the fading light and the twilight temperature falling. Alone in vast and foggy fields, we happily filled our buckets with crisp new stalks. 

Fast forward to 2010. I live in Maine so I get local asparagus for a few weeks in late June and early July. But I'm a sucker for the trucked-in product on offer in my local supermarket in April and May, so every year around this time I'm thinking asparagus a couple of times a week. A few days ago I made a dish that called only for the asparagus tips (for decorative reasons) so I ended up with a bagful of their plainer siblings, the stalks. This easy soup recipe takes full advantage of all the flavor of asparagus while using up those orphaned stalks, and at 61 calories / 10 grams carbohydrates, it fits extremely well in a weight- or glucose-controlled diet.  

Cream of Asparagus Soup with Tomato-Basil Coulis

Print recipe only.

Ingredients

  • 12 stalks fresh asparagus, woody ends snapped off
  • 3 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade with no salt added*
  • 1/2 cup unflavored low-fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons Tomato-Basil Coulis (recipe below)
  • Salt and hot sauce, to taste
  • Small toasts (for garnish, optional)

Method

1. Cut the asparagus into 1" pieces. 

2. Bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the asparagus, lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Allow to cool. 

3. Place the broth, asparagus and yogurt in a blender** and purée at high speed 2 or 3 minutes until smooth. Adjust seasoning. 

To serve, reheat gently. Garnish each bowl with a tablespoon of the Tomato-Basil Coulis and, if using, the optional toasts.

Notes 

*Chicken broth. If you need to keep your sodium intake under control, it's a good idea to make your own chicken broth with no salt added. Even the "reduced sodium" versions of commercial chicken broth are loaded with salt, so using one of them in this soup would increase the sodium by 6 times, to about 900 mg. Since 2400 mg is the recommended limit for daily sodium intake, getting over a third of that in an innocent-looking bowl of soup could complicate the rest of your day, to say the least. 

**Blender. You can do this with a food processor but the result will not be as smooth. If you're in a hurry and have to purée the soup while hot, be very cautious. 

Nutritional Estimate: 2 Servings. Per serving: 61 Calories; 10 g Total Carbs; 2 g Dietary Fiber; 8 g Sugars; 2 g Fat; 3 mg Cholesterol; 156 mg Sodium; 8 g Protein. Weight Watchers: 1 point.

Print recipe only.

Fresh Tomato-Basil Coulis

Makes about 3/4 cup.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored and cut in quarters
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Minced parsley or fresh basil for garnish (optional)

Method

1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and purée on high at least 3 minutes. Correct seasoning. 

Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

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Comments

Stephen, don't worry, I'm not going to be that retired neighbor next door who halloos to you every time you go into your back yard and nails you down for a half hour of chat. It's just that your take on food, direct, essential, and elegantly simple, has struck a high and lonesome chord for me in the cacophony of internet food blather. Being diabetic has made you a wonderful cook. But what I write here to tell you is to get out of your house and cut some milkweed stalks to tide you over until local asparagus comes in. Drop them into hard-boiling water for c. 5 minutes (test) and you've got a serious competitor for that other vegetable. In fact, I like milkweed better. And you can't beat the price.

Hi Jane...

I'm not worried...I love to hear from readers, and I've carried on several "conversations" with some of them for years. I do my blog primarily for the enjoyment of my friends and readers so I love to hear from readers when what I write strikes a chord, raises a question or just seems wrong. Feel free!

Thanks, too, for your kind words about the blog...

I must say I never heard of milkweed being consumed as food...your note reminds me of the post I did upon my first acceptance of dandelion greens as food ( http://www.stephencooks.com/2007/03/dandelion_green.html ) in which I mentioned that "our understanding of what is food and what is trash evolves"... Before today, the only use I'd ever heard of for milkweed was the mature stalks and pods, used as fall decoration. Maybe because my mental picture of milkweed is of its mature state -- all woody and warty and oozing milky sap -- I'm having a hard time thinking of it as food...but I'll try to find some shoots soon because I'm ALWAYS open to expanding my food horizons.

your post will make me revisit asparagus soup, as mine has a texture I don't care for.

I see you prefer the blender, so I will give it a try and leave my food processor in the "garage"
:-)

Wonderful combination, asparagus and the tomato/basil coulis

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