Sunday, 17 March 2013

Lemony Asparagus Soup

10:30am on St. Patrick's day and I'm halfway through my third beer mug full of my favourite green beverage. Green tea, that is. I'm sure the student ghetto is already full of green belligerence, but I am happily sitting in my kitchen making asparagus soup and listening to Cat Stevens. Hey... at least it's green?
I promise that this soup is actually green. And yummy.
Everyone has different ways of celebrating the coming of spring. Some people choose to celebrate it by drinking a lot of beer and disregarding the university's annual email reminding us of the fine for public urination. However, it is currently -10˚ and I can't afford the $316 fine, so I decided to make a fresh, lemony, green soup to remind me of springtime but still keep me warm.

I make a lot of soups, but usually they are of the deep orangey-red variety, with lots of garlic and paprika. Which is lovely, but much too wintry for this girl who is currently craving summertime. Cooking without garlic is very unusual for me, but I decided to try it - and it turned out to be a perfect balance of comforting, creamy warmth and bright refreshing flavour.

Most recipes I found called for leeks or a higher volume of potatoes than I had on hand; some called for heavy cream but I wanted to find a more healthy alternative. I decided to test out chickpeas in this soup, which added the desired texture. There is a slight chickpea taste, so if you do not like chickpeas I would recommend a higher volume of potatoes. For myself, however, I like the taste and the added protein.

One thing I love about this recipe is the little budget-saving measures I was able to use to keep costs down.

I cook chickpeas from dry in my crock pot and freeze them, so that I always have them on hand and do not have to worry about BPA, without the cost of canned chickpeas. I haven't calculated how many cans of chickpeas I make out of one $2 bag, but I think I must be saving about 80% of what I would be spending on BPA-free cans of chickpeas.

I also love the idea of using asparagus tips as garnish. I can't argue with the fact that soups are more fun with something small sprinkled on top, but I am a student who already spends too much money on food. Am I going to go out and buy chives, nuts, or fresh herbs in order to sprinkle a little bit on top of my soup? Well, sometimes. But this is much more cost-effective. That being said, if I were to use fresh basil and/or parsley in this soup, they would make a lovely garnish as well.

Lastly, I got the chance to try out my homemade vegetable stock! The idea of buying slightly-flavoured water has never appealed to me, so I frequently just use water and add lots of herbs, garlic, and often something else to add depth - tamari, wine, vinegar, agave nectar. Yesterday I finally decided to make my own stock in my crock pot, and I am very pleased with the resulting soup.

Making stock. Mmmm, frugality in a pot.

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or preferred cooking oil)
  • 2 small potatoes (or 1/2 of a large potato), diced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp salt, to taste *
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  1. Chop off tips of asparagus, slicing thicker tips in half lengthwise, and set aside. Chop asparagus stalks into 1 inch pieces.
  2. Melt coconut oil in a medium-large pot, add asparagus stalks and sauté until tender, or about 5 minutes.
  3. Add broth, potatoes, bay leaf, thyme, and rosemary to pot. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
  4. Add chickpeas, basil, parsley, salt, and lemon juice. Cover and let simmer for another 5 minutes. I used frozen chickpeas, so I cooked my soup for a few extra minutes.
  5. Turn off heat and let cool. In a small pot, bring lightly salted water to a boil and add reserved asparagus tips. Cover and turn off heat, allowing tips to simmer for a few minutes until tender and bright green. Set aside.
  6. Blend soup. Return to stove to warm through if necessary, and serve with reserved tips as garnish.
* Note: I used homemade vegetable broth without any salt added, so adjust salt content to taste if using a standard broth with sodium.

Does anyone have any tips on taking photos using an iPhone? I am absolutely in love with it, but I am really struggling to make food look appetizing, especially this soup. It looks more tasty and green in real life, I promise!
Poor iPhone photography, exhibit two. This is a bumbleberry pie that I enjoyed with friends on pi day, if you were wondering.


  1. This soup has all my favorite flavors and ingredients in it--the asparagus, the lemon, the chickpeas and the herbs. It looks fabulous.

    iPhones can be tricky with photos. Mine does best in lots of natural light. Have you tried a program like Instagram? It can help. Also there are sites where you can download your photos and work with the color a bit like The basic levels are free--doesn't give you all the bells and whistles but does give you a lot to work with.

  2. Thanks for the advice! I did download the snapseed app which has been helping a bit, but I will try out instagram and picmonkey - it may also be easier to edit them online than directly on the phone.

  3. I can't stop eating this soup. It is delicious. It never occurred to me to use chickpeas as a thickener – great idea!

  4. Thanks!! I'm glad you like the chickpea idea... I wasn't sure if it was one of those weird things that only I would eat (largely because I have a freezer full of them) or not haha. The unfortunate thing is that I've found that the soup doesn't freeze well - the texture gets weird and the chickpeas become overpowering.

    PS. I'm glad the commenting thing is working now :)


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