SEASONAL NUTRITION: ASPARAGUS & SWEET PEA SOUP

Imagine growing 6-10 inches a day. That’s a day in the life of an asparagus stalk during peak season.

A half-cup of asparagus delivers a third of your daily folate, which plays a vital role in blood cell formation, cell growth and development, and the prevention of certain birth defects. Asparagus is also packed with potassium and vitamins A and C all at just 20 calories per serving. Need another good reason to add it to your table? Asparagus is a source of cancer-fighting antioxidants including glutathione.

Asparagus comes in green, white and purple varieties. The different colors yield slightly different flavor and nutrient profiles. And as pretty as it is raw, purple asparagus goes green when it’s cooked. This may be a fun project for the kids but at the end of the day you’ll still have green asparagus!

How to select and store asparagus

Though you can find it year round, asparagus is in its peak season in spring and early summer. In fact, an asparagus spear can grow as much as 10 inches a day in the warmer months. When shopping for asparagus skip the limp stalks. Instead, choose firm stalks with tight tips. Though best eaten the day purchased, asparagus can be refrigerated, wrapped in a damp cloth inside a plastic bag for three days.

How to prepare asparagus

Enjoy asparagus raw or lightly cooked. One of my favorite and easiest ways to prepare asparagus is to roast it with a little salt, pepper, oil and lemon. I strayed from my typical roasting method to create this spring soup featuring fresh asparagus and green peas. The peas add a natural touch of sweetness and fiber and help create a creamy texture. Finished with fresh thyme and lemon juice, this soup is bright and fresh just like our warm spring days to come.

To start the soup, snap off the bottom ends of the asparagus. Fresh asparagus stalks will naturally break at just the right spot when bent. Don’t skip this step because this part of the stalk can be woody and tough.

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Heat olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the onion and garlic in the KitchenAid® Sculptured Stainless Steel Stockpot.

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Slice the asparagus into small, even pieces. This allows the asparagus to cook quickly and maintain that beautiful green color.

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Add the green peas, vegetable stock, salt and pepper to the stockpot.

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Cover and simmer the soup until the peas are heated through and the asparagus is just fork tender.

Maintain the beautiful color of this soup and the nutrients within by cooking it quickly. Walk away for too long and its vibrant spring green color becomes camouflage.

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I love to cook but don’t enjoy the clean up process so much. Luckily you can puree the soup right in the pot by using the KitchenAid® 2-Speed Hand Blender.

Asparagus is quite fibrous. Break through the fibers using the blender’s highest setting.

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SEASONAL NUTRITION: ASPARAGUS & SWEET PEA SOUP

Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pound fresh asparagus stalks, chopped small
2 cups green peas
4 cups unsalted vegetable stock or broth
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt*
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, removed from the stem
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

Sauté the onion in olive oil over medium-high heat, about 3-4 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add garlic cloves and cook 1 minute more taking care not to burn the garlic.

Add the asparagus, peas, vegetable broth, salt and pepper to the KitchenAid® Sculptured Stainless Steel Stockpot. Cover and allow the soup to cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or just until the asparagus is fork tender.

Remove the soup from the heat. Add the fresh thyme and lemon juice. Using the KitchenAid® 2-Speed Hand Blender on the highest speed, puree the soup until smooth.

Serve warm or chilled.

* Adjust to taste based on your vegetable stock.

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