I hate it when I buy asparagus, and the next thing I know I could only use half of it, because the lower half isn't tender enough to grill or eat right away. It's wasteful, and let's not mention how much asparagus cost in this side of the world.
The basic idea of making soups stemmed from the need to use knobs and ends of produce lying around the house. Back in the day, soups are the solution to not waste anything - slow cooking something in a broth has the ability to soften and tenderize almost everything. So why not include asparagus ends?
I love this broccoli and asparagus soup because it's easy to make, consists of 3 out of my 5 daily veggie requirement, and I can make a large batch to freeze. I am, in fact, a self-proclaimed frozen-soup-and-pasta-sauce lady. You don't want to make it vegan, you can use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock, and add a splash of cream at the end, too.
What You Need:
3 large celery sticks, roughly chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
3 springs of thyme leaves (dried will also be ok)
1 tsp cracked black pepper
200 grams asparagus, chopped (I always use the starchier ends!)
200 grams broccoli, cut into small florets
1 litre vegetable stock (you can use chicken stock too)
What You Do:
1. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat 2 tbsp olive oil with medium heat. Add the celery and onion with a pinch of salt, and cook until transluscent.
2. Add garlic powder, black pepper and thyme, and stir until fragrant. Add the asparagus and cook for 2 mins. Add broccoli, and cook for another 3 mins.
3. Add the vegetable stock and bring to boil. Once it boils, lower the heat and simmer for 10 mins. Then set aside to cool.
4. Once it has cooled anough for you to manage, pour it into a blender (maybe in batches, if you dont want splutter), and whizz until smooth.
5. To serve, it's great just as is, or you can add some croutons, another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some cracked black pepper on top.
6. If you plan to freeze some, it can last up to a month in the freezer.
Oh the soup life.
Soups are great for when the nights are rainy, when the day has been shite and you need a hug-in-a-bowl, when you're not feeling well, or when you'r trying to lose a few pounds.
Soups are soothing in general, but what makes this minestrone a winner is that it's a whole meal on its own, so you can make it in a large singular pot and you've got a whole meal sorted out. It's filled with vegetables and beans for protein, and if you make extra, you can freeze them in batches, and use them later to drench chicken meatballs in, or even add a handful of pasta as you reheat it.
When you make a recipe as simple as soup, the key is to rely on the spices and herbs for depth of flavor. This is especially important when making vegetarian meals, since you no longer have the factor of animal fat for taste.
Here's a recipe that I've used plenty of times, and the beauty of this is that you can feel free to add any extra sturdy vegetables you've got stashed in your fridge that needs using.
What You Need:
Small pinch fennel seeds
Small pinch coriander seeds
Small pinch mustard seeds
Small pinch of dried herbs you have on hand like thyme, rosemary or oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp crushed black pepper
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, roughly sliced
1 whole white onion, roughly chopped
2 cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 cube vegetable stock
1 can butter beans
Optional - kale, or sugarnap peas, or chopped capsicum
What You Do:
1. In a large heavy-bottomed pot (so that stuff don't burn too quickly), heat about 3 tbsp of olive oil with low heat. Add the fennel seeds, mustard seeds and coriander seeds as the oil begins to get hot. Listen up for the sizzle.
2. Add the chopped carrots, onions,celery, crushed pepper and garlic powder. Cook them low and slow until they soften, and make sure they don't burn. This will be the base for the soup, giving the entire dish natural sweetness and texture.
3. After about 3-5 mins, add the canned tomatoes. Crush them with the back of your wooden spoon. Refill a can with water and add to the soup. Throw in the vegetable cube too, making sure it is well dissolved.
4. Cook until it comes to the boil, then taste. Add and adjust with salt to your liking.
5. Drain the butter beans and add to the soup. Simmer over low heat for at least 20 mins, or until everything is all mixed and cooked together.
6. If you want to add some extra vegetables, do that in the final 5 mins.
7. To serve, ladle soup into bowls, and drizzle some olive oil. For extra pezzaz, you can also grate some parmesan cheese on top (you know what else go super great with this? Crumbled feta cheese).
8. For freezing - store in containers, and after you've reheated it, rejuvenate with a drizzle of olive oil, some crushed pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.