from Cindy Fleming, food & diet consultant at Carp Ridge

The somewhat abrupt hot and cold weather patterns we’ve been experiencing make it hard to determine what we should eat daily in terms of good digestion and health.

But even though at times the weather shouts “hot” & “summer,” followed immediately by “cool” & “spring”,  we should try to eat what nature is providing ‘in season’.

Springtime calls for local foods that help spring clean our bodies. New spring vegetables are a way to cleanse and rejuvenate our systems — bitter greens like dandelion and watercress, pea shoots and asparagus come to mind.

Asparagus is a diuretic vegetable, eliminating water from the body through the kidneys and helping cleanse cholesterol from the arteries. It is a good source of folate, potassium, and fibre.

Since Ontario asparagus is in season and available for only a short time, asparagus recipes are in order!

Creamy Vegan Asparagus Soup with Potato, Onion & Leek
(Serves 4)

1. Wash well as asparagus can be quite sandy.

2. Here’s how to snap the asparagus in the right place to make sure you don’t cook the tough, fibrous part: Using both hands, hold the asparagus about 2-3 inches from the tip and at the base and snap. It will snap where it should — discard the tough part from the base and prepare accordingly.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, green and white parts, chopped
  • 1 large potato or sweet potato, diced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 1 ¼ lbs)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill (can be omitted or another herb can be used)
Preparation:

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and leek, and sauté 5 minutes. Add potato and cook additional 5 minutes.

Add stock, 2 cups water, and two pinches of salt. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes.

While soup is cooking, prepare the asparagus. Remove the tough lower part of the stalks (usually about one inch is sufficient). Cut the tips and set aside. Chop the remaining part of the stalks into ½ inch lengths.

Remove the soup base from heat. Let cool slightly. Add chopped asparagus stems.

Add soup to blender in batches. Blend until smooth, Add asparagus tips and herbs to the blended soup and reheat gently. Serve immediately.

Note: The base of this soup can be made ahead, and finished when ready to serve, to maintain a bright green color. Simply blend the base with the chopped asparagus, add the tips and herbs and heat to serve.

Pan Grilled Asparagus

Even asparagus haters will like this! Simple and delicious.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • Sea salt

Heat a fry pan (preference is cast iron) over medium heat until quite warm — a drop of water should sizzle when dropped in the pan but you do not want the oil to smoke when added to the pan. While the pan is heating prepare the asparagus. I like to grill the asparagus at its full length but you can cut it if you like. Wash well, place in a bowl and add the olive oil. Toss so the oil is well distributed over the asparagus. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of sea salt.

Add asparagus to the pan and saute a few minutes, shaking the pan or using tongs to keep the asparagus moving.

Remove from heat when lightly browned and cooked to semi-firm.

Serve immediately.