Asparagus is readily available year round these days, but April is considered it’s peak season – which runs from spring to midsummer. Not only will it be in flavorful abundance, but you should see it’s price tag drop considerably, which is another great reason to make heavy use of it this time or year. It also happens to be one of my favorite vegetables! I like it steamed and served with a little butter or Parmesan shavings, or cold with vinaigrette or hollandaise sauce as a first course. Roasting it is especially yummy, but it’s also great in rice and couscous side dishes. You’ll find my favorites in the premium members recipe library.

TIP: Do you know how to tell where you should cut to rid it of it’s tough ends? Holding the bunch of asparagus together in one hand, snap one stalk from the bottom. Where it breaks naturally, is where you should cut across all the others to remove the woody ends. Come back every Friday for more food and cooking tips.

Mother's Day gift idea

Mother’s Day gift idea

And while we’re at it, let me help YOU afford the luxury of time, save money, and get a delicious dinner on the table in a snap. Purchase premium membership between now and May 19th, and I will give you my mini eBook, Party Accomplished as a BONUS GIFT. It would make a great Mother’s Day gift idea too!

Cashew Cream of Asparagus Soup

Cashew Cream of Asparagus Soup

My friend Mikki is visiting from Australia, and has a toothache, so she can’t eat anything solid for a few days. I  whipped together this cashew cream of asparagus soup from what I had on hand in my fridge and pantry. Both of us were pleasantly surprised by the out come. Mik says “it’s the best soup ever”, so I hope you like it too.

SERVINGS: 4

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 leeks, white and green parts sliced
2 bay leaves
1 pound asparagus, tough stems removed and chopped
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup cashew cream (see note below)
3 cups fresh spinach
1 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1). Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the celery, leeks and bay leaves, and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 6-8 minutes. Add the asparagus, thyme, broth, salt and pepper and bring to boil, lower heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 20-25 minutes.

2). Add the cashew cream and spinach, bring back to a slow boil, and simmer another 10 minutes or until thickened. Discard the bay leaves and stems of the thyme. Stir in the parsley.

3). Working in batches, puree the soup, filling the blender no more than half full each time because heat expands, until the soup is a smooth, creamy consistency.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:

This soup can be served hot in winter, but it is delicious cold in the spring and summer too. Garnish with asparagus tips, Italian parsley, or croutons. Serve on its own or with fresh crusty bread.

NOTES:

This is a method of replacing the dairy that I learned from Chef Tal Ronnen’s cookbook, The Conscious Cook. Cover 2 cups of raw cashews with water, and refrigerate over night. Drain and add fresh water to same level as cashews for thick cashew cream. Puree in a blender or Vitamix (or blender) until smooth, creamy, and the consistency of heavy cream. Refrigerate for up to three days, or freeze for up to three months.

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  • April 27, 2012
    8:25 am

    Your timing for posting this recipe is perfect, as asparagus is at its best in my area right now. This weekend is the Asparagus Festival in Stockton, where they serve deep-fried asparagus, asparagus ice cream, and “asparitas” (asparagus margaritas!).

  • April 27, 2012
    10:35 am

    I can’t wai to try this. And SuzanneJ, yes, please post pics.

    • April 28, 2012
      9:13 am

      Had another friend over for dinner last night, and she gave it the thumbs up too!

  • April 27, 2012
    1:47 pm

    Dear, sweet asparagus! How I love thee! Now another way to love it! Great tip on where to snap them off too! Is there something to the theory that that thicker asparagus is more ‘in season than thin asparagus?

    • April 28, 2012
      9:20 am

      I think thickness is a matter of personal preference rather than season. The thin ones are thinner skinned, so they cook faster, so they are great for soups and stir-fry’s, but I prefer the thicker ones for roasting, or as a starter with vinaigrette.

  • April 27, 2012
    8:10 am

    I look forward to asparagus season every year! James wouldn’t eat it until I grilled it for him, as well as several other veggies. I think he had mostly boiled veggies growing up. :/ My children won’t eat it yet, but that doesn’t stop me from making it! :)

    For the soup could you use a hand blender instead of traditional blender to get it smooth?

  • April 27, 2012
    8:18 am

    I would maybe increase the cooking time a little if you are going to use a hand blender (I’m spoilt with my Vitamix), but of course you can. Thanks for reminding me of yet another GREAT way to prepare asparagus! I love it grilled too.

    With the kids, you might try roasting it – I find bringing out the natural sugars, and the change in texture helps sell it to picky eaters.

    • April 27, 2012
      8:53 am

      PS. Tell that wonderful husband that we are all on alert waiting to give any advice or support he may need in cooking for you and the kids this week. I started another thread just for James.

  • April 27, 2012
    8:30 am

    Oh I am so jealous – asparagus ice cream? Please go, take lots of pics, and right down your reactions to the flavors. I want to experience it vicariously!

  • April 27, 2012
    9:58 pm

    My children tried asparagus tonight…and they liked it and the spinach, too!!!

    • April 28, 2012
      9:22 am

      YAY! The PCA™ wins again. A lot of parents find their children eating more vegetables with my recipes.

      I’ve been experimenting with making them more flavorful and pleasing for years, because I try to make them a focus of my diet. You cook chicken in different ways – why wouldn’t people try cooking veggies in various manners too. Why do we always rely on steaming them?

      • April 28, 2012
        10:38 am

        Simone that’s awesome! I’ll bet a year ago they would have said heck no!

  • April 28, 2012
    10:40 pm

    This recipe sounds amazing! I think Tal Ronen’s book will be on my list of books to get for my library. But you know, you’re the one I go to for almost all of the recipes I need. Got to make this soup! I am now craving asparagus, in soup and just steamed and on the plate with a squeeze of lemon. Hugs to you and Daisy!