So you don’t think you have the time, energy, or right equipment to pull a home cooked meal together? It doesn’t have to be complicated. A home cooked meal can be just as rewarding as an elaborate one from a restaurant, and simple to make too. Cooking meals at home is one of the best things you can do for your health. Evidence shows that people who cook at home eat healthier because the quality of food is often much better and you’re less likely to eat junk foods if you’re doing the cooking.
If the wonderful and comforting ritual of cooking at home has slipped out of your life, soup is the way back in and spring is the time to do it. Visually beautiful and full of sweet produce, spring is a great season for food, particularly soups. Here are four soups to try from this year’s spring bounty. What makes them badass? They’re delicious, easy to make, beautiful, and vegan!
1 | Asparagus soup.
Luxurious and velvety, this asparagus soup heralds the newness of spring. Top it with your choice of frizzled leeks, asparagus stems, peas, cashew cream, olive oil, and/or fresh herbs and you’ve got the perfect finish.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large bunch (1 pound) of asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 leek, white and very light green parts only, sliced
2 large shallots or ½ onion, chopped
6 cups (1½ quarts) vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 cup thick Cashew Cream
2 cups fresh baby spinach
Freshly ground pepper
1 leek, white and very light green parts only, cut in 2-3-inch pieces and julienned
3-5 stems asparagus, cut in 1-inch pieces
Fresh parsley, chopped
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, shallots, leek, and onion and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes, until the leek is soft. Add asparagus with a generous pinch of salt and sauté another 5 minutes.
Add the broth and bay leaf, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until asparagus has softened, about 30 minutes. Add the Cashew Cream and 1 teaspoon of salt and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
Working in batches, pour the soup into a blender and blend on high. Return to a cleaned pot or a large bowl. Add the spinach to the last batch and continue blending until smooth. Pour last batch into bowl or soup pot to incorporate the spinach batch. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
For garnish, in a small skillet, sauté leeks until slightly brown, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside. In the same pan, sauté asparagus pieces until softened, add peas. Cook for about a minute, season with salty and pepper. Remove from heat.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with frizzled leeks, asparagus stems, and/or peas. Add lemon zest, if you like. Another option, add a dollop of cashew cream to serve. Also, we like to eat the soup with farro or brown rice.
2 | Creamy green pea soup with mint.
Light and creamy, this springtime favorite is loaded with vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and a unique assortment of health-protective phytonutrients—one of which has been associated with protection from stomach cancer.
Creamy Green Pea Soup with Mint
2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
1 leek, white part, sliced
1 shallot, chopped
3 cloves garlic
10 ounces peas (fresh or frozen)
3 cups vegetable broth
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped coarsely, plus more for garnish
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup coconut milk or cashew cream
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, julienned in about 3-inch slices
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add leek, shallot, and garlic. Sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add peas and cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes if using frozen peas, longer if using fresh. Remove from heat. Add mint and ½ teaspoon salt.
Purée the soup in a high-speed blender until very smooth. Return to cleaned pot. Stir in cream and adjust salt and add pepper. Alternatively, you can add the cream later, as a dollop on top of your bowl of soup, just before serving. Or, you can choose to omit it altogether.
For the frizzled leeks, heat oil in a pan, add leeks, and sauté until slightly browning. Season with a little salt. Set aside.
To serve, ladle soup in bowls, drizzle with olive oil and a dollop of cream, if using. Garnish with mint leaves and frizzled leeks. Sprinkle with black pepper.
3 | Creamy white asparagus soup.
Before cooking white asparagus spears, be sure to peel the bottom two-thirds of each spear because white asparagus tends to have a thick and bitter skin. Boiling in salted water is the best technique for cooking white asparagus, but it’s also good roasted, grilled or in a deliciously creamy soup like this one.
Creamy White Asparagus Soup
1 bunch (1 pound) white asparagus, (rough ends removed and tips reserved)
1 russet potato, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large shallot, chopped
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
½ cup Cashew Cream
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Trim and discard about ½-inch of the rough ends of the white asparagus. Cut off the asparagus tips and set aside. Lay the stems (spears) on a work surface as the spears can easily snap while peeling them. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin off the spears.
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add potatoes and ½ teaspoon salt and cook for another 2 minutes. Add asparagus (stems only, tips will be added later) and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Allow the soup to simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Add the asparagus tips and simmer another 5 minutes. Carefully ladle the soup into a high-speed blender, like a Vita Mix, blend until smooth. Return soup to pot, add cashew cream and stir. Taste and adjust salt.
In a small skillet, lightly sauté asparagus tips in olive oil for a few minutes. Remove from heat.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with asparagus tips and parsley. Sprinkle with white pepper. Optional: drizzle with olive oil or mix olive oil with a bit of cayenne pepper and drizzle on top of soup.
4 | Hearty spring vegetable soup.
This totally badass soup is oil free. I used the culinary technique, dry-sauté. Instead of using oil, I used vegetable stock to sauté my aromatics (leeks and garlic) and vegetables. Using a dry-sauté I skipped the oil and eliminated the added fat.
Hearty Spring Vegetable Soup
1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced lengthwise, rinsed, and chopped small
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
3 carrots, peeled and diced small
1-2 celery stalks, diced small
3-4 red potatoes, diced small
5 cups or more, vegetable stock
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut in 1/2-in pieces, stems and tips separated
2 cups cooked (or one can) white beans (cannellini, navy, flageolet, etc)
1 cup frozen green peas
1 bunch (about 2 cups) fresh spinach, chopped small
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped small
1 generous tablespoon fresh mint, chopped small
1 teaspoon or more salt
Fresh lemon juice, to taste
Heat a large pot over medium heat. When hot, add leeks and stir until slightly browned and almost translucent. Add garlic and stir for about 5-10 seconds. Add a little water or stock and cook the onions until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add carrots and celery. Stir, consistently, not allowing the vegetables to have time to stick to the bottom of the pot. If they begin to stick, and a little water or stock to continue. After about 5 minutes, add the potatoes. Stir continuously, then add 4 cups of stock. Bring to a boil, then add the asparagus stems, peas, and beans. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, then add spinach, basil, and mint. Add the asparagus tips. Season with salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Garnish with edible flowers, small mint and/or basil leaves, and/or a twist of freshly ground pepper