Thursday, July 21, 2011

'Gus Soup

...His name, as I ought to have told you before,
is really Asparagus, but that's such a fuss
to pronounce that we usually call him just "Gus"

I happened to have a lonely bunch of asparagus and a few other odd bits of veggies and herbs on hand last night, so I made this soup for dinner. It may seem odd that I made a soup in the middle of July, but Seattle is currently the only place in the country, it seems, that is *not* experiencing a drought/heat-wave/hell-on-earth.

This was an entirely vegetarian soup, not just a veggie-centric one. I think it was the first time that I've made a vegetable soup without a meat stock base. And I came to realize last night that it's really not that difficult to make a mouth-gasm-inducing vegetarian soup. All it takes is a shitload of veggies, and a bit of time.

I started out by boiling the tough, woody ends of asparagus, plus the frozen veggie & herb bits I had in some water. I let that simmer for a good hour or so, while I chopped up some onion, minced some garlic, did some laundry, and cut a portobello mushroom and the rest of the asparagus into pieces. Then I sauteed the onion & garlic in some oil and butter for a minute or two, and added the asparagus and mushroom. I strained the solids out of the simmering stock (to which I'd added a couple big pinches of salt and a crack or two of black pepper), then added the sauteed veggies and some crushed up dried rosemary. While the soup continued to simmer, I deglazed my sauteeing pan with some balsamic vinegar, let it reduce a bit, and poured it into a little bowl.

Once the veggies were soft enough (which only took a few minutes), I took the pot off the heat, and pureed the contents with my immersion blender. The last time I tried my hand at an asparagus soup, I overestimated the power of my blender and left the tough, woody end bits in the soup instead of straining them out. Even though that soup was cooking on the stove for several hours, the end product still had stringy fibers in it (bleh!). But not this time! Oh no! This soup had a perfect texture. And with all the leftover veggies in it, plus some rosemary for a bit of herbal focus, the flavor was spectacular! Much more complex than it would have been with just asparagus.

I garnished it with some goat cheese, the asparagus tips I reserved, and a drizzle of the balsamic reduction sauce. We had a last-minute dinner guest last night, and after the first bite, she looked at me with wide eyes and asked with sincere urgency, "What is in this?!" I love that a meal comprised of leftover vegetables can be so satisfying.

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