This week we’re looking to our friends in Spain for a little culinary inspiration. Our veggie of the week is asparagus!
Wild asparagus is a commonly used ingredient in springtime Spanish cooking. The variety grown in Spain is slightly more bitter than the cultivated varieties eaten in the United States, but still tastes delicious. These hardy Spanish varieties are perennial, meaning they re-grow each season. Some of these plants will live up to 30 years!
You may have noticed that asparagus has been front and center in your own grocery store lately. That’s because in the Northeast, asparagus is in season beginning in early spring and ending in mid-summer. This means if you’re eating asparagus now, it’s likely local and at its peak nutrient-density. Asparagus has all kinds of detoxifying health benefits and has been touted as a cancer-reducer in traditional medicinal fields.
Since Asparagus has a mild flavor when cooked, we’ll be adding some common aromatics to our dish. Your little chefs will be adding onions, garlic and ginger to their asparagus soup to enhance the flavor and smell of the dish. Let’s get cooking!
- 2 lbs asparagus
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 leek
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups water or veg stock
- ¼ bunch fresh parsley
- salt+pepper to taste
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cups chickpeas
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 t cumin
- ½ t salt
- ½ t pepper
- 1 T lemon juice
- Prepare all ingredients for asparagus soup.
- Chop spears into 1-inch pieces. Be sure to taste!
- Cut leek into small rounds.
- Tear parsley leaves from stem, and rip into small pieces.
- Caramelize Onions.
- Get asparagus soup started.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic, cooking slowly and stirring for five minutes. Add ~¼ cup vegetable stock. Bring to simmer.
- Add asparagus and 1 T of chopped parsley. Cook five minutes, before adding remainder of veg stock.
- Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer slowly about 20 minutes
- While soup is simmering, make chickpea “croutons.”
- Combine chickpeas in large bowl with 1 T olive oil and seasoning. Toss well to coat evenly.
- Spread evenly on baking sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes. Stir and return to oven for additional 5-7 minutes until slightly browned and crunchy.
- While chickpeas bake, have students squeeze lemon juice into bowl.
- Remove chickpeas from oven and drizzle 1 T lemon juice over sheet. Set aside the remainder of lemon juice as optional zesty addition to soup.
- Return to soup. Add soup in batches to food processor and blend until smooth.
- Serve in bowls, adding optional lemon and caramelized onions.
- Garnish with asparagus tip and season with salt and pepper to taste.