After months of cold temperatures asparagus starts the spring season at the top of the list as a delectable fresh green vegetable delicacy. Asparagus shoots are one of the most sought-after vegetables during the spring season.
Asparagus was first grown in Greece nearly 2,500 years ago. The name asparagus comes from the Greek asparagos, meaning shoot or sprout. A distant cousin of the onion, the distinguished asparagus is also a member of the lily family.
Asparagus spears can be green, white or purple. Sweet white asparagus, a favorite of Germans, is green asparagus but is grown underground, without access to sunlight which prevents photosynthesis, thus inhibiting production of chlorophyll. Purple asparagus changes to green with prolonged cooking.
During medieval times, raw asparagus tips were crushed and used to treat swelling and pain due to stings, wounds, and infections.
“One of the primary asparagus benefits is that it is an excellent source of glutathione, the ‘superhero of antioxidants,’ a deficiency of which is associated with increased heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer risk.
“Asparagus contains a significant amount of saponins. These naturally occurring plant glycosides have been shown to inhibit liver, gastric, and colon cancers as well as leukemia. Saponins are known to help regulate blood pressure as well.
“A 2006 study in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, found that saponins extracted from asparagus not only slowed the growth of cancer cells but actually induced death of cancer cells.” www.memory-improvement-tips.com/asparagus-benefits.html
Recipe – Cream of Asparagus Soup
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds fresh asparagus spears, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces (reserve 8 spears)
4-6 cups vegetable broth
1 cup russet potato, diced
½ cup raw cashews
1 ½ Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
salt, to taste
coconut milk or other non-dairy milk, for serving
fresh chives, for serving
Sauté onion in 1 Tbsp. oil until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and all but 8 asparagus spears. Sauté until asparagus begins to soften (another 5 minutes).
Stir in 4 cups of broth, potato, and cashews.
Bring liquid to a boil. Lower heat; simmer for about 20 minutes until potato and asparagus are soft.
Transfer mixture to food processor in batches; blend until smooth.
Return mixture to pot. Thin with up to 2 cups of additional broth, if desired. Stir in lemon juice and nutritional yeast; season with salt. Reheat.
Coat bottom of skillet with remaining tsp. oil; add reserved asparagus spears and cook just until bright green and tender-crisp.
Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with non-dairy milk, sprinkle with chives; arrange asparagus spears on top. Serve!