Creamy Asparagus Soup RecipeNovember 16, 2010 Written by JP [Font too small?]
Cream of asparagus soup is one of my favorite cool weather comfort foods. However, I make it in a slightly different way than most. You can’t tell by its appearance and maybe even the taste, but my version of this delicacy is completely dairy free. You might guess that I replace the cream or whole milk with soy milk. Wrong. Instead, I use the taste and texture of raw cashews to mimic the richness of cream while, at the same time, improving the overall nutritional composition of the end product.
There are obvious and subtle differences to be found when comparing cashews to heavy cream. A half-cup serving of raw cashews rings in at about 360 calories. It provides approximately 10 grams of protein and 30 grams of primarily monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Heavy cream yields roughly 410 calories per 4 ounces. The majority of the energy comes from saturated fat (44 grams). Other differences include higher levels of antioxidants, fiber and phytochemicals in cashew nuts. (1,2,3,4,5)
One of the finest attributes of tree nuts such as cashews is that they’re capable of improving the nutritional composition of ones diet without causing weight gain – when eaten in moderation. A recent analysis by Louisiana State University determined that regular tree nut consumption led to significantly improvements in nutritional levels via increased intake of calcium, fiber, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin E. This same population showed a tendency of consuming less sodium on a daily basis. And, while eating nuts often results in a slightly higher caloric intake, this gain in calories is not associated with weight gain. In fact, some research demonstrates that including nuts in ones diet helps to reduce the risk of long-term weight gain. (6,7,8)
Healthy Fellow Cream of Asparagus Soup
32 oz organic vegetable broth
12 oz organic asparagus spears
1/2 cup organic, raw cashews
2 Tbs organic, extra virgin olive oil
2 large organic shallots
organic black pepper to taste
NutraSalt or salt to taste
Nutritional Content: Calories: 130. Protein: 3 grams. Fat: 10 grams. Fiber: 2 grams. “Net” Carbohydrates: 6 grams.
Pour the olive oil into a large soup pot on low-medium heat. Dice the shallots and soften in the hot oil. Rough chop the asparagus spears and add to the pot. Season liberally with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the shallots from burning. Stir in the vegetable broth and cover the pot. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the cashew nuts. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup into a creamy consistency. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
I personally consume a variety of dairy products in my own diet. However some people don’t tolerate them or object for philosophical reasons. That’s why I always like to have alternatives on hand when guests come to visit. But there’s yet another reason why I occasionally omit a familiar food from my own diet: to encourage nutritional diversity. It’s much easier to be exposed to milk-based products than cashews. What’s more, eating the same foods over and over again doesn’t afford you the opportunity to enjoy a broad spectrum of naturally occurring minerals, phytochemicals and vitamins. In short, mixing it up in the kitchen helps you to cover your bases on the nutritional front as well.
You may have noticed that I didn’t spend any time in today’s column on the star ingredient of the recipe: asparagus. I recently wrote a column that focused on the health promoting potential of Asparagus officinalis, so I decided not to retread previous material. However I will say that I primarily chose to use this low-glycemic, non-starchy vegetable because it packs an impressive nutritional punch. A 12 ounce bag of asparagus spears yields less than 90 calories while contributing a considerable amount of dietary fiber, potassium, protein and Vitamin C. This an excellent example of how you can add plenty of healthy vegetables to any nutritional program, including low carbohydrate diets.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
Tags: Asparagus, Cashews, Nuts
Posted in Diet and Weight Loss, Food and Drink, Recipes