Vegan Cream of Asparagus Soup

(VEGAN) CREAM OF ASPARAGUS SOUP
Submitted by Chef Stuart Reiter of True Bistro in Somerville

"I like that this recipe utilizes the entire asparagus stalk. It is also a good excuse to make a larger batch of asparagus stock that is useful for risotto, another favorite of mine during asparagus season. We get our asparagus from Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon and Czajkowski Farm in Hadley. Cashews are a wonderful way to add creaminess and body to vegan food. The miso adds umami, especially when you use the excellent products from South River Miso in Conway."

Serves 4 large portions or 6 smaller ones

1 carrot, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 onion, diced

1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed

small handful parsley stems

1 whole sprig fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1 leek, washed and sliced, green parts reserved for stock

1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced

2 stalks celery

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

⅔ cup raw cashews

2 tablespoons white miso

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

¼ teaspoon ground white pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons sea salt

3 tablespoons Marcona almonds, coarsely chopped

Make a vegetable stock: bring to a simmer 2 quarts of water, the carrot, chopped celery, and the diced onion, along with the trimmings from the asparagus and leek, the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf. Simmer 20 minutes or so, then strain and reserve.

Meanwhile, remove the tips from the asparagus and split the stalks in half. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and quickly blanch the tips, then remove them using a slotted spoon (reserving the hot water) and immediately plunge them into an ice water bath. Drain, pat dry, and reserve for garnish. Return the water to the boil, then add the cashews for one minute, drain and rinse them.

In a sauce pan with a lid gently sauté the sliced leek and onion with the olive oil and season with sea salt. While the leeks and onions are cooking, thinly slice the asparagus stalks and celery. When the onions and leek are tender, stir in the thyme leaves, followed by the asparagus stalks, celery, and the stock. Bring the mixture just to a simmer and turn off the heat. Add the cashews, miso, nutritional yeast, white pepper, and lemon juice.

Working carefully, blend the soup in batches and return it to the saucepan. (If your blender does not produce a smooth result, pass the soup through a fine sieve into the pot.) Warm the soup through and serve garnished with the sliced almonds and reserved asparagus tips.