Sunday, May 20, 2012

Roasted Asparagus Soup with Spring Lemon Gremolata

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Hello!  I'm sorry!  Come back!

If you are one of my two loyal readers, you may have noticed that Playing With My Food has been on a little bit of a hiatus for the past few weeks.  The Hubby and I have been nomads...Orlando and New Orleans for ten days, then a couple of weeks later over to Italy, Greece and Turkey for three more weeks.  Yep.  Amazing.

The problem with all of this is of course that I have no control of myself when I eat in a restaurant.  And since vacations mean continuously eating in one restaurant after another (my version of paradise in itself), I have had no control of myself for a very, very long time.

But the food...holy macaroni and canoles, the food!

I started off this eating extravaganza in Orlando at a work conference, where we scarfed down filet mignon and lobster for dinner two nights in a row, along with crab, prawns and oysters.  Plus wine and beer, of course.  Then over to New Orleans where it was jambalaya, gumbo, red beans and rice, etouffee, oysters, grits, fried chicken, and Strawberry Abitas.  We were lucky enough to be in N'awlins for crawfish season, and ate boiled crawfish for the first time...amazing!!!  Next was a Mediterranean cruise with out-of-this world cruise food (including all-day ice cream buffet) and stops in Turkey (meatballs, Turkish Delight, beer), Greece (gyros, souvlaki, baklava, beer), and finally over to Italy.  Oh, there anything I didn't eat in your wonderful country?  If I thought I had eaten to my maximum capacity on the cruise ship, Italy showed me that I could push through and take it to the next level.  Pizza, Pasta, Gelato, Prosciutto, Pasta, Gelato, Cheese, Bread, Cheese, Pizza, Risotto, Bread, Pasta.  Wine wine wine limoncello wine wine wine.  Happiness.

And now here I am, back at home.  With my same clothes from before all of this last paragraph happened.  And they don't fit.  Definite first world problem.

Confession...I forgot to mention that after arriving back from the airport we ordered pizza for dinner.  Because you have to ease yourself out of the Italian lifestyle.

One thing that I took away from Italy is how easy and delicious it is to eat fresh foods without preservatives.  If you go into an Italian grocery store you will be hard-pressed to find a bag of chips or a bottled salad dressing.  I like that.

Back home, I huffed it over to a Canadian grocery store this weekend and filled our fridge and cupboards with healthy food.  80-calorie frozen yogurt bars (probably not healthy at all but they make me happy) are just as delicious as coconut gelato in Rome right?  I even spent enough at the grocery store that I scored a free new BBQ tool kit!  

It's finally asparagus season, and it's cheap so I bought five bundles.

Enter this supremely healthy soup, chock full of veggies and flavour.  I served this puppy with a mixed salad and chicken last night for dinner.  The Hubby called it diet food, but also said that we should eat this way every day.  It tasted good and it was good for us.  Success.  The lemon gremolata topping adds a really great citrusy/garlicky taste to the final product.  Who needs pasta, pizza, and gelato anyway?  (drool pouring down chin).      

The recipe didn't call for potatoes, but I added them anyways to give the soup some thickness without cream.  The result was good, but very thick and baby food-like, so if you want a thinner soup just omit the potatoes that I included in the ingredient list above.

Oh, and what's your favourite city for food?

Roasted Asparagus Soup with Spring Lemon Gremolata

5 pounds asparagus, stems trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 14 - 15 cups)
4 large chopped leeks, white and pale green parts only (about 4 cups)
2 potatos, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
6 cups (or more) of low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp minced fresh Italian parsley
4 tsp finely grated lemon peel
1 tbsp minced fresh tarragon
1 small garlic clove, minced

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Combine asparagus, leeks, potatoes, and oil into very large bowl, and use your hands to toss.

Nice stems

My very large bowl has a picture of an asparagus on it.  Neat.
Divide between two large rimmed baking sheets.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast vegetables until asparagus and potatoes are soft and leeks are golden, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on sheets.

Spoon 1/3 of vegetables into a blender with 2 cups of broth.  Blend until smooth.  Transfer to a large pot.  Repeat two more times, using 1/3 of vegetables and 2 cups of broth for each batch.  Warm soup over medium heat, adding additional broth in 1/2 cupfuls as needed for a thinner soup, if desired.  Season with salt and pepper.

Mix parsley, lemon peel, tarragon and garlic in a small bowl to make the gremolata.

Ladle soup into bowls,  Sprinkle with gremolata to serve.  Enjoy!  

The Hubby's Review:  Tastes healthy!

Recipe Source:  Adapted from Epicurious


  1. Yummmmy! I love soup and this one looks and sounds delish. Looking forward to future posts. Keep it up Megs! You've got a good thing going here. p.s. Glad to hear you had an incredible trip. Can't wait to hear more about it.

  2. SO happy to have you back, Meg! I have been jonesing for a new recipe...and here it is! Will try this one out tomorrow.

    I was so jealous of your European adventure I almost didn't comment. Almost. :)

    Authentic Italian food, come on, how can you tease us like that?! Fiend!

  3. Sam - I love soup too! I have to stop myself from making every blog post be about soup! :) Thanks for the comments. I will fill you in on the trip next weekend when I see you.

    Kris - authentic Italian food is amazing!!!! Every day in Italy I would be like, "Ok, will it be pasta and gelato for lunch, or pizza and gelato for lunch?" and then have to make the same difficult decision at dinner. Haha!

    Sam and Kris - FYI this recipe was more about the detox that I desperately needed and less about it tasting like the most amazing soup I've ever made. If I was looking for it to be the most amazing soup it would definitely have cream and butter and stuff like that in it. So just keep that in mind if and when you do make's definitely healthy healthy healthy!!!!! But still pretty darn tasty all considering!

    Thanks for reading ladies!!! New post coming tomorrow. :)

  4. Update: Not the 'prettiest' soup to look at, lol, but DAMN tasty. (And healthy!)


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