Asparagus & Broccoli Soup

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

I have heard hearty soups like this called "peasant food".  I can't think of higher praise, because to me the term embraces simplicity, flavor, and creativity with ingredients.  A meal in a bowl like this is perfect for a cool spring night, and makes terrific use of tender broccoli stems.

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  25 minutes
Serves:  4+

3-4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups tender broccoli stems, coarsely chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups asparagus, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked potatoes, coarsely chopped
2-4 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Salt to taste
Toasted almonds to garnish (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat, and cook the broccoli stems, the onions, and the red pepper for 2 minutes, stirring.  Add  the asparagus and cook for another three minutes, stirring, or until the broccoli and asparagus are tender-crisp.

Add the potatoes, the chicken stock, the pepper, and the salt.  Process with an immersion blender (or in batches in a countertop blender) until smooth and thick.  Heat in the stock pot to a simmer, and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Distribute to serving bowls, garnishing with toasted almonds and a grind of black pepper.

Tip:  Use only tender broccoli stems.  A simple way to test them is to try a stem raw, or cut it with a paring knife.  If it's crunchy, use it.  If it's woody, or hard to cut with a knife, banish it to the compost.

Tip:  This soup is a terrific destination for leftover cooked broccoli or asparagus.  Feel free to vary the proportions of these key green ingredients.  All asparagus?  Great.  All Broccoli? Yum.

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