I’ve been eating very poorly of late, with very little impetus to do any cooking or housework in general. But today the kitchen was in a crisis situation, so I cleaned, took stock of the fridge and swore not to buy veggies from the market just so they can decompose merrily in my crisper. On one such zombie-like trip to the market a while ago, I had brought back two leek stalks, a sweet potato and a bunch of asparagus, with very little idea about what to do with them. This evening, back from the gym,* I took the sorry veggies out and looked at them. They were on their last legs, and had to go.
They went into an unvented soup with some desi twists, and it has hit just the spot on this suddenly chilly night. I thought I’d share the recipe. It’s rough and ready, mind you, so feel free to improvise.
Asparagus Soup with Yam and Leeks
A bunch of asparagus stalks – chop the tips off and keep aside, and chop the rest into into one-inch bits
A smallish yam/sweet potato – chopped
Two leek stalks, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp sambar powder (or curry powder, or madras powder or whatever the commercial stuff is called in English)
2 tbsps fat free milk (optional)
2 cups water (or stock, if you have it – I didn’t)
salt to taste
Heat the oil in a stockpot and add the bay leaf and cumin seeds. When seeds sizzle and leaf is browned, add the chopped vegetables (except for the asparagus tips). Saute everything for a couple of minutes. Then add the water (just enough to cover everything), and add the sambar powder. (If you don’t have a premade curry powder, you can dry-roast some cumin, black pepper, cardamom and cinnamon, and some coriander seeds if you have them, and grind the whole mixture together, and add it. The roasting brings out the fragrance and flavour of the spices.)
Mix, reduce heat to medium and cook till everything is soft. About 15-20 minutes. Add salt to taste.
Then take the pot off the flame and let it cool a bit. I added the milk partly to cool it down a bit, but water will do nicely. Puree the whole thing in a food processor. The soup turned out quite thick, so you can choose how much water depending on what consistency you prefer.
Throw the asparagus tips into some boiling water, (with a pinch of salt and a drop of olive oil – I confess I added the much richer ghee you see in the picture above), and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain.
Pour into bowls, and garnish with asparagus tips. Enjoy!
The spices balance the sweetness of the yam really well, somehow. The alternative combo suggested above will, I think, give the same kick and balance to the soup. I didn’t think it would taste this good, but it turned out to be a fine one-bowl dinner.
*(y’all! After years of knee pain and bitching about it on the couch, the word pronation, followed by a trip to a specialty shoe store a few weeks back, has resulted in me running over a couple of miles on the soft and forgiving treadmill. Like I said last time, this is admittedly nothing for many people, but for me it has literally been leaps and bounds!)