Saturday, May 24, 2014

Gluten-Free Cream of Asparagus Soup

Creamy, Without Cream

Yes, unfortunately we are still experiencing soupy weather. Warmer, but gloomy and soupy.

So, I can't help myself with one more soup before nicer weather arrives for good.

My inspiration for this was my Gluten-Free Cream of Mushroom Soup. Hmmm... it seems that I still have not blogged my Gluten-Free Cream of Mushroom Soup. I need to do this. It is outstanding! I love that soup.

But we aren't talking about that soup here. Similar, but different, soupy soup.

This asparagus is here now, and now is the time to blog it. Asparagus necessitates a few minor changes to my fabulous mushroom soup.

Change of herbs. Change of zing. Change of vegetable. Change of zang.

I love this change of vegetable. I love asparagus. I love it when it is tall and thin and dark green.

Would you believe I grew up picking "wild" asparagus? I call it "wild," with quotes, but it wasn't really wild. It was started by someone with a brilliant, tasty idea many, many years prior. But because no one maintained it in any way, shape, or form, I call it wild.

No one had done anything to it for decades, probably. Nothing except pick it. It wasn't really maintainable. It wasn't even growing in a garden. It just grew, all by itself, there along the tops of irrigation ditches that fed acres and acres of alfalfa fields.

And once it started growing, we picked it. Only once a year, in the spring. Year after year after year. A few hours of walking, stooping, snapping, bagging, walking, stooping, snapping, bagging. Around the rims of dozens and dozens and dozens of acres.

Sound like fun? Good, you're recruited!

No, but really, when we all helped out, it was so worth it. Every foot-long, pencil-thin sprig of that chlorophyll-loaded asparagus.

Year after year after year of yum!

Gluten-Free Cream of Asparagus Soup

Right off, let me make this clear. There is no cream in this soup. No cream in creamy soup.

Say it ain't so?

It's so. Don't get me wrong. Cream would be fabulous. Outstanding. Monumental.

I just don't use cream in my soups very much anymore.  I love the flavor of cream, I don't love the heaviness and fat content. And soup can be consumed in some not-so-small servings. It starts to add up.

I love my soup and I love my large servings of soup. Therefore, I don't want to regret all that cream.

I can't regret it if I don't consume it.

Therefore, I often use canned, evaporated milk. It is thicker and richer than regular milk and comes nowhere near the fat content of cream. If you are so inclined, go for it and use cream instead.

1/2 cup minced onion
2 or 3 Tbsp butter or margarine
3 cups asparagus, cut into half inch pieces
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 Tbsp sweet rice flour (or tapioca or potato or arrowroot)
2 12 oz cans of evaporated milk (NOT sweetened, condensed)
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp lemon pepper or to taste
salt to taste

Cook onion in butter or margarine over medium heat, until onion is soft and translucent.

Chop that gloriously beautiful asparagus. Half-inch pieces are good. These are slightly larger than that. And they are not quite pencil-thin, which is, I might add, when they are at their peak tenderness.

Add 1 cup stock and chopped asparagus to the cooked onions.  Cook at a simmer for 10 minutes or until asparagus stem pieces are soft.

In a small bowl, mix your chosen gluten-free flour with 1/2 cup stock, mix well.  Add to pot and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Stir in remaining stock and all of the milk, crushed thyme, coriander seed, and lemon pepper. Cook and stir. Salt and pepper to taste, but go lightly on the pepper here. Serve.

This has a very good, light flavor, allowing the asparagus to be prominent.

Cream would be great, if you are so inclined, making this richer and fuller. And delicious. But cream is an attention grabber. It steals the limelight from the asparagus. Well, not really. But it is nice to really taste the asparagus on its own.

I ate through the first half of my first bowl of this, fully savoring the lightness, the soft flavors, the elegant texture of the asparagus. Gentle flavors.

And then it hit me. Hit me like a ton of bricks.


True epiciness would be achieved by adding bacon. A quarter of a pound, chopped and cooked with the onions at the beginning.


Talk about stealing the limelight. Oh, but wouldn't that be delicious?! And hey, if you are going to use bacon, go for the gusto and use that cream!

Light and Elegant or Go for the Gusto. You choose!

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