Left alone and given half a chance, my daily personal menu could easily be reduced to little more than soups and stews. Quite frankly, it’s incredibly that there’s any savory food that makes it onto this blog besides those more liquid edibles, for as much as I make and eat them! Perhaps its the fact that they often defy recipes, one of their most attractive features in the first place, that my love for soup isn’t properly documented. Experience has shown that whatever you’ve got lying around in the fridge, waiting to be used up, is what tastes best in soup. Truly! The more desperate it is to be used, the smaller the scraps that can find no other culinary destination, they are what you should put in you soup right this moment. Besides, how many people need to be told how to put a mirepoix, some beans, and a handful of spices into a big pot with plenty of water? Even the most inexperienced and reluctant cooks can figure that procedure out, no recipe required. It feels silly to spell it out, and yet, there are some creations that beg to be recorded and shared.
An unlikely combination even in my eyes, I didn’t expect that leftover can of coconut milk to embrace the green, vegetal flavor of asparagus nearly so harmoniously. Brightened with zippy bites of lemon, ginger, and pepper, it’s a departure from my standard soup spicing, and just the breath of fresh air I so deeply needed in my soup routine. Although it may still be fairly basic, I’ve conquered my resistance to sharing what seems simple; A recipe needn’t be complicated to be worth talking about.
Asparagus and Coconut Soup
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Medium Leeks, Sliced Lengthwise, Chopped, and Thoroughly Cleaned*
1 Inch Fresh Ginger, Peeled and Finely Minced
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
12 – 16 Ounces Trimmed Fresh Asparagus, Roughly Chopped (About 1 Bunch)
2 Cups Vegetable Stock
4 Ounces Spinach or Other Leafy Greens (Such as Kale, Collards, etc)
1 Cup Coconut Milk (Full Fat, Don’t Skimp!)
Zest of 1 Lemon
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to Taste
1/4 Cup Finely Fresh Chives and Chive Blossoms, or Scallions
Avocado Oil or Extra-Virgin Olive Oil for Garnish (Optional)
*Typically, I slit my leeks down the center and then shake them out under cold water until clean, but these were particularly dirty. Thus, I fully sliced them and placed them in a colander with fairly large holes. Tossing them around in the colander under cold water, more of the inner leek was exposed, and I could wash away the excess dirt more easily. Whatever you do, be thorough! These unsuspecting alliums can hold on to a ton of grit, and that will not make for the most pleasant soup.
Pour the oil into the bottom of a medium soup pot and set it over moderate heat on the stove. Once the oil is hot, add in the leeks and ginger, and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the leeks are soft and the ginger is aromatic. Sprinkle in the salt, followed by the asparagus and stock. Bring the brothy soup to a boil, then reduce the heat so that it’s at a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and let cook until the asparagus is tender and bright green; about 8 – 10 minutes. Add the spinach or other greens, and continue to cook just until wilted, only 2 – 4 minutes more should do it.
Turn off the heat and finally incorporate the coconut milk, lemon zest, and pepper. Working in batches if necessary, transfer soup to your blender and thoroughly puree until smooth completely. Alternately, hit it with an immersion blender while still in the pot. You can either serve the soup right away while still hot, or chill it for at least two hours for a more refreshing blend. Top individual bowls with chives, chive blossoms, and a tiny drizzle of oil, if desired.
Serves 2 – 4