Asparagus spears are available year-round but their peak season is Spring, with April being their prime month. When selecting asparagus, choose firm, bright green stalks. Asparagus starts losing it's flavor and tenderness rather quickly so it's ideal to eat it either the day you buy it or within the next couple of days to get the best of it.
A variety of phytonutrients can be found in asparagus. One of the important nutrients is inulin, which can also be found in artichokes and chicory root. Inulin is supportive of our digestive tract. Unlike most carbs, inulin can pass through our lower gut in tact and serve as a fertilizer to the healthy bacteria in our gut. It's a very similar concept to prebiotics.
Asparagus is also known as an anti-inflammatory food. This is mainly due to one type of phytonutrient called saponins. Saponins also have anti-cancer properties and have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood sugar levels, and balance blood fat levels. Asparagus is also a healthy source of folic acid and B vitamins. One cup of asparagus has only 40 calories and is ranked very low on the GIycemic Index chart.
So whether you are trying to limit your calories, or if you are just looking for a nice, satisfying bowl of soup, you are going to love this recipe! Not only does it contain fresh asparagus, but there is also the sophisticated flavor of leeks, along with some fresh thyme, and garnished with some pistachios and fresh chives...mmmmm, delicious! This soup serves as an excellent starter to your main course, or as a main dish. To make it a little heartier, add some cooked quinoa on the side with some sliced avocado. It's a unique bowl of health that is surely a feel good treat!
1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, chopped (reserve decorative tips for garnish)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 small leeks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs coconut oil
4 cups vegetable stock (chicken stock for non-vegan)
2 tsp fresh thyme
2 tsp sea salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste
1. In a large pot, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the leeks, garlic, and asparagus (not including decorative tips). Sauté for an additional 5 minutes.
2. Add the stock, fresh thyme, sea salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. While the soup is cooking, blanch the asparagus tips in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain the water and place the asparagus tips in an ice bath to retain their color. Set aside until needed.
3. When the soup is done cooking, either transfer the soup to your high speed blender or use an immersion blender and blend the soup until smooth. If you use your high speed blender, such as a Vitamix, your soup will be pretty smooth and creamy. If you use an immersion blender, you may end up with some fibrous strands in the soup as your immersion blender is not quite as heavy duty as a Vitamix. To solve that issue, pour the soup through a strainer over a large bowl to separate the soup from any possible asparagus strands that may be lurking should you decide to use your immersion blender. If need be, transfer the soup back into your large pot for reheating after straining.
4. Top the soup with the asparagus tips, chopped pistachios, and fresh chives. Serves 6.