Dairy-Free Asparagus Soup

Image

 

This is one of my favorite, quick, yet flavorful soups.  So many asparagus soups are weighed down with heavy cream, and they really don’t need to be.  What we are going to do is roast our asparagus to bring out the flavor.

When I was little, my grandparents and my parents both had asparagus patches.  When the season was upon us, we would all the asparagus that we could.  At that time, we couldn’t purchase asparagus in grocery departments, as it was an “oddity”.  Lucky us that not only can we now purchase asparagus during prime season, but almost any other time of the year as well!

Anyhow, on to the recipe!  Please use only fresh asparagus for this.  Frozen asparagus is sad, and canned asparagus is a travesty.

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • One to two tablespoons of virgin olive oil (if you have flavored olive oil with herbs, even better…I used Wegmans’ Basting Oil)
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth (depending on whether one is vegan or not)
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons of raw cashews
  • a large pinch of white pepper
  • salt to taste

Line a stainless steel pan with aluminum foil (for easy clean up).  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  

Meanwhile, trim the ends off of your asparagus.  The easy way is simply to “snap” off the ends of the asparagus.  If it snaps, you’ve got coarse material to discard, and a longer stem of tender asparagus to make into soup.  Now if you are lucky, and your produce manager was on the ball, they stored the asparagus with the ends soaking in water.  If the ends are still moist, and you are using a Vitamix, you probably won’t need to trim the ends at all.  Place the asparagus into a stainless steel or glass mixing bowl.

Peel the yellow onion and halve it.  Peel the garlic cloves.  Add both to the bowl with the asparagus.  Now toss the vegetables with the olive oil until coated.  Spread out the vegetable mixture in your lined stainless steel pan, and place in the oven.  Roast for 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and set aside.  In the Vitamix container, either 48 ounce or 64 ounce in size, combine your chicken or vegetable broth, thyme, cashews, and pepper.  

Cut off a few of the best “heads” of the asparagus for garnishing your soup.  Set these aside.  Place the remaining asparagus pieces, as well as the onion and garlic, into the Vitamix container.  Secure the lid and set the Variable Speed to 1.  Start the motor, and gradually ramp up the motor until you reach 10.  Set a timer for six minutes.

When the timer goes off, check your soup to make sure that it is hot.  If not, run for a couple more minutes until it is.  Taste, and salt according to taste.  Blend for a minute on Variable Speed 2 until combined.

Pour into bowls, garnish with the reserved asparagus tops, and enjoy!

Tomato Basil Soup with Quinoa

Image

Tomato soup is one of my comfort foods, one that I will likely never get bored with, as there are so many varieties and takes on it.  This is a good recipe to fix when you’re craving rich flavor, but it’s not the height of the tomato season.

  • one large yellow onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 cups of chicken broth
  • two 15 oz. cans of fire-roasted tomatoes with garlic
  • one 4 oz. can chopped green chilies
  • 4 tablespoons of fresh, chopped basil
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa

Note: I used my 64 oz. Vitamix container for this entire soup.

Peel the yellow onion and cut it into quarters.  Place these and the peeled garlic cloves in your Vitamix container.  Cover with water to one to two inches above the line of the onions.  Secure the cover, and set to Variable 1.  Start the Vitamix, and process for 6 to 8 seconds.  Pour the resulting chopped onion/garlic mixture through a sieve or colander.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a frying pan, and gently saute the chopped onion and garlic mixture over low heat until the onions become translucent.  When done, remove from heat and set aside.

In the Vitamix container, combine 1-1/2 cans of the fire-roasted tomatoes, green chilies, basil, chicken broth, the reserved onion/garlic mixture, and half the quinoa.  Secure the lid, and set the Variable Speed to 1.  Start the Vitamix, and slowly raise the Variable Speed to 10.  Let process for six minutes or until the mixture is hot.

Add the remaining quinoa and the half can of tomatoes, re-secure the lid, and set the Variable Speed to 3.  Start the Vitamix and blend for 10 seconds until mixed.  Don’t process for longer, unless you want a perfectly smooth soup.  I like a smooth base with some chunky bits in mine.

Vitamix Broccoli Slaw with Curried Yogurt Dressing

Image

There’s this deli-style restaurant at the Glendale  rest area off of the QEW; there, I used to order broccoli slaw.  It was lovely: crisp, savory, and sweet, all at the same time.  However, times change…menus change…and I haven’t seen my favorite slaw appear as one of their offerings in about three years.  Maybe it was a change in management/ownership, or perhaps my timing was just wrong.  In any case, I was slaw-free…and it wasn’t a good thing.

So, I’m starting to expand my skills with the Vitamix.  The wet-chop is now my friend, and the other day I thought, “Why not make my OWN broccoli slaw?” Yeah, why not!?

This is what I came up with.  The dressing is different, as are the ingredients, but it’s a rather tasty little concoction.  Feel free to vary the recipe to make it fit your eating lifestyle, be you vegan, paleo, vegetarian, whatever.

I shall apologize now to those people who don’t own a Vitamix.  You can certainly fix this without a Vitamix, mixing up the aioli and the dressing in a standard blender or “bullet”; you just will have to get your French chef’s knife in motion to chop up all that broccoli by hand.

Okay, here goes….let’s start with the aioli (and you might never want to buy cheap mayonnaise again)!  Yes, you WILL have leftover aioli and you MIGHT have leftover Curry Yogurt Dressing.  After tasting these, you will probably be glad that you do!  They are both great as spreads and dips, so get creative; OWN your kitchen!

Fresh Aioli

This is a standard aioli, useful for many recipes.

  • 3 large organic egg yolks
  • juice of 1-1/2 lemons (4-5 tablespoons)
  • a large pinch of sea salt
  • a large pinch of white pepper
  • 3 peeled garlic cloves (don’t use garlic that has started to “sprout”)
  • 3/4 cup light olive oil
  • 1/4 cup virgin olive oil

Note – I used a 48 oz. container, which has 3″ wide blades.  If you are using the new 64 ounce 4″ wide blade container, you may want to double this recipe!

Combine the two olive oils and set aside.

Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in the Vitamix container.  Secure the lid, and set the machine to Variable Speed 1.  Start the Vitamix, and slowly increase the speed to 8.  Now, remove the lid’s plug, and one by one, drop in the garlic cloves. Process for 10 seconds.

Reduce the Variable Speed to 6.  Now slowly begin to dribble in the olive oils through the hole in the lid.  Continue this slow, steady stream until all the olive oil is gone.  Process the mixture until emulsified.  You will be surprised how it will quickly become thicker and creamy.

Place in a glass container and refrigerate.

Curry Yogurt Dressing

This light, yummy dressing has a multitude of uses, from green salads, to slaws, to chicken salads.  I like to keep some ready and “on hand” for when the craving strikes!

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup homemade aioli
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • a pinch of freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients a small 32 oz or 48 oz Vitamix container.  Set Variable Speed to 1 and press start.  Slowly increase speed to 4; process until ingredients are smoothly combined.

Broccoli Slaw with Curry Yogurt Dressing

  • 2 broccoli “heads”, 4 broccoli “crowns”, or 1 large stalk of broccoli
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup goat cheese crumbles or feta cheese, your choice
  • 4 strips of crisp bacon
  • Curry Yogurt Dressing made with homemade Aioli (recipes follow)
  • Candied walnut or pecan bits

Wet-chop the broccoli in the Vitamix.  For this, I used the 64 oz, 4 inch blade container.  Take one broccoli head at a time, break it into larger chunks, and place it in the blender container.  Cover with enough water to cover the vegetable pieces by one to two inches.  Set the Variable Speed to 1, and turn on the Vitamix for about six seconds.  Stop the blender, and empty the blender container, pouring the contents into a strainer or colander.  This should result in a course chop.  Do this to one of the two broccoli heads, and then repeat it with the second one.  Place the broccoli bits into a large glass or stainless steel bowl.

Now for the onion.  Cut the onion into fourths, place in the blender container, and once again cover with water, one to two inches over the top of the onion.  With the Variable Speed set to 1, process for 6 seconds.  Stop and drain the onion into the colander or strainer, adding the onion to the bowl with the broccoli.

At this point, you probably have some veggie bits left in your Vitamix container.  Run some cool water into the container, and pour it right back out through the strainer.  Most of those bits will come out, and you can add them to your salad.

Add to the salad the dried cranberries, goat cheese bits, and crumbled bacon; toss lightly to combine.  Now add Curry Yogurt Dressing to your taste.  I used between 1/2 cup to one cup of dressing (depending on the size of the broccoli heads), but some people like more “sauce” to their salads than I do.  Toss again to mix.

Just prior to serving, sprinkle with the candied walnut or pecan bits.  Enjoy!

“Wild” Mushroom Soup

image

This is relatively easy to make, and may make you swear off of buying canned mushroom soup.  Start by taking a stroll through your produce aisle, selecting three different types of gourmet mushrooms. Feel free to substitute your own favorites from what I am listing here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces of portabello mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces of oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces of shitaki mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1-1/2 tablesoons of parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of marjoram
  • 2 ounces of brandy or cognac
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium sized pot. Add the onions, and saute until soft and slightly golden.  Add in the mushrooms, reduce the heat, and cook for ten minutes.
Pour two cups of the chicken stock into the pot, add the parsley and marjoram, and simmer for one hour.
Pour the remaining two cups of chicken stock into a Vitamix or blender.  Add the mushroom and onion mix with broth, reserving 1 cup of the cooked mushrooms.
If you are using a Vitamix, start the machine at Variable 1, gradually increasing to Variable 10. Run four or five minutes until steaming hot. If a blender, start on low and increase speed until smooth; you will have to return it to the stove to heat in a couple of steps.
Add the reserved mushroom mixture and run on Variable 1 for 10 seconds, resulting in small mushroom bits in the soup.
Salt and pepper to taste. (Here’s where the non-Vitamix folks will want to return yours to the pot to heat up the rest of the way, stirring in the brandy just prior to serving.)
Add the brandy or cognac, run on Variable 1 for 10 more seconds, and serve.

Fall Vegetable Bisque soup

Image

Every so often, fate intervenes in the kitchen, or in this case, the produce in my refrigerator did. I had made plans to repeat the Vitamix’s Bacon Cheddar Potato Soup, but there, waving to me from the vegetable drawer, were some leftover root vegetables. If I didn’t use them, I would eventually lose them.  I also knew that the freezer had a recent addition of beef broth, a full can’s worth that I had mistaken for chicken broth, only realizing my faus pax AFTER removing the lid.  Hmmmm….

That is how this soup was born.  It is creamy, rich, but low in calories.  I am sure that you will find it as comforting and filling as I do.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 yellow onions, sliced thick
  • 1 leek, sliced in 1/2 inch slices
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 russet potatoes, sliced in 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 carrots, sliced thick
  • 2 parsnips, sliced thick
  • 1/2 of a small head of green cabbage, sliced in 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons of McCormick Salt Free “It’s a Dilly” seasoning
  • 6 cups of low-fat beef broth
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese (optional)
  • Low-fat Sour Cream (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot.  Add the onions and the leek.  Saute for four minutes, stirring until slightly translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes.

Reduce the heat and add the potato, carrots, parsnip, and cabbage.  Cook five minutes, until the mixture is heated through.  Add the seasoning, stir, and then pour in the beef stock. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer the mixture until the potato is tender. Remove from heat and let rest for 30 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a 64 ounce Vitamix container.  If using the 750, select the Soup pre-set and blend.  If using a different model, select Variable 1, start, and slowly increase to Variable 10.  Process until smooth and heated throughout.

If desired, garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.