In today’s harried world, there’s a lot to be said for eating foods that nourish our body and our brain.
Wellness chef and speaker, Rebecca Katz, certainly thinks so. Her cookbook,“The Healthy Mind Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy, includes more than 120 recipes designed to optimize brain health, boost memory, improve your mood and strengthen the central nervous system. It was written with Mat Edelson, an award-winning health and science writer.
I can’t say that her “Roasted Asparagus Soup with Pistachio Cream” caught my attention solely for those reasons. Mostly, I was intrigued by the cream made of pistachios, broth, mint and lemon juice that gets blitzed in a blender until thick and luscious, before being stirred into this velvety soup, which is a puree of roasted asparagus, onions, leeks and garlic. Plus, in spring, I can’t get enough of asparagus. I buy it every week at the grocery store or farmers market, and enjoy every single spear until the season ends all too abruptly.
Asparagus are loaded with vitamin B1, Katz writes, which boosts mood and energy levels, as well as vitamin B2, which reduces fatigue. Leeks are a good source of Vitamin K, which can improve memory. Pistachios also contain a lot of vitamin K and vitamin B thiamen, as well as folate, which may help prevent dementia.
I can’t swear I felt smarter or more alert after polishing off a bowl of this creamy soup that’s the color of an avocado shake. But I definitely felt wonderfully satisfied. The soup has a delicate flavor hat really lets the asparagus shine through. The pistachio cream adds a lot of nuttiness, richness and body. The tiny bit of mint comes through at the end, giving the soup a quick, bright hit.
It’s a perfect soup for enjoying on Easter Sunday. But don’t worry, if that holiday happens to bring unseasonably warm weather like we’ve been experiencing of late, you’ll be glad to know that this soup tastes just as good cold, too.
Roasted Asparagus Soup with Pistachio Cream
For pistachio cream:
1 cup water or organic broth or stock
1 cup shelled pistachios
1 tablespoon chopped mint
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the soup:
2 bunches of asparagus (about 2 pounds), tough ends snapped off, remaining stalks peeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 leeks, white part only, chopped
1 Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 cups organic stock
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
To make the pistachio cream, put the water, pistachios, mint, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a blender or food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Taste; you may want to add a bit more salt.
Cut off the asparagus tips and put the stalks and tips on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle the asparagus with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Toss evenly to coat. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until tender. Remove the asparagus tips from the baking sheet and reserve for garnishing the soup.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an 8-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, and a pinch of salt. Saute for 4 minutes, then add the potato and a generous pinch of salt. Stir occasionally, allowing the potatoes to soften and the onion to turn golden. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Pour in 1 cup of the broth and deglaze the pot, stirring to loosen any bits stuck to the pot. Add the remaining 5 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
In batches, puree the soup in a blender, adding the broth first, then the vegetables and asparagus. Blend until velvety smooth, about 2 minutes. If the soup is too thick, add more broth 1/2 cup at a time. Return the soup to the pot and gently reheat. Taste; you may want to add a pinch of salt or a squeeze of lemon.
Stir 1 cup of the pistachio cream into the soup. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the reserved asparagus tips.
Cook’s Note: For an ultrasmooth velvety texture, go one step further; strain through a fine-mesh sieve, using the back of a wooden spoon to push the liquid through.
The ends of the asparagus can be stringy, so peeling just the ends will ensure that you have the smoothest soup possible.
To Store: Store soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Per Serving: Calories: 300; Total Fat: 15 g (2 g saturated, 9.5 g monounsaturated); Carbohydrates: 30 g; Protein: 10 g; Fiber: 9 g; Sodium: 433 mg
From “The Healthy Mind Cookbook” by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson
More Asparagus Recipes: Roasted Asparagus Gratin
Another Pistachio Recipe To Enjoy: Sicilian Pistachio Bars