No waste here: use the entire asparagus spear and leek in this Whole Asparagus Leek Soup
It took this month’s Recipe ReDux theme of “Easy Ways To Reduce Food Waste” to change my ways when it comes to cooking two of spring’s feature veggies: asparagus and leeks.
This is how I have prepped asparagus my whole life:
1) Apply gentle pressure on the end of the stalk where it will naturally break off. Demo video by dear daughter.
2) Discard the woody stems and cook the remaining spears. (Over the past few years, I’ve at least discarded those stems into our compost heap.)No waste here: use whole veggies in this Whole Asparagus Leek Soup #thereciperedux @tspbasil Click To Tweet
But it took looking into one of my staple cookbooks, The Silver Spoon (<— that is an affiliate link), to realize that you certainly can eat the woody stems – especially if you are going to puree them into a soup or sauce. They just need a little more time to cook.
Same goes for leeks. You can also cook down the tough, green leafy parts of them, too. #EyeOpener
In the past, after cleaning leeks, I’d hack off the tough green ends and toss them into the compost as well – only using the white and light green section.
But now the days of tossing those asparagus ends and dark green leek tops are over! And during this spring produce season, I’m going to encourage my fellow cooks to use the entire asparagus spear and the whole leek (ok, except for the roots at the bottom) following these tips:
Whole Asparagus Prep (no food waste style):
1) Snap off the woody ends (see video above) and then finely chop them into small pieces. Coarsely chop the remaining tender part of the asparagus, keeping piles separate.
2) Add 5 minutes of cooking time to your recipe and first cook the diced tough ends. Then add the rest of the tender asparagus and follow the recipe’s original cooking time.
3) Puree into soups, pesto and salad dressings.
Whole Leek Prep (no food waste style):
1) Cut leek in half lengthwise and rinse thoroughly under water until grit and sand is removed. Chop off the dark green section and finely slice. Slice off the roots at the white end (and compost) and the slice up the remaining light green and white section, keeping piles separate.
2) Add 5 minutes of cooking time to your recipe and first cook the dark green slices. Then add the rest of the sliced leeks and follow the recipe’s original cooking time.
3) Toss over chicken or use as a pizza topping. Puree into soups, pesto and salad dressings.
Whole Asparagus Leek Soup
No waste recipe: use all the asparagus spears and the entire leek in this Whole Asparagus Leek Soup.
- 1 pound asparagus spears
- 1 leek
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2/3 cup white wine
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup kefir or buttermilk
- Juice and zest from 1/2 of a lemon
- 1/2 cup shaved Asiago cheese
- Bend each asparagus spear until it breaks. Finely chopped the woody ends and then chop the spears (keep separate.)
- Cut leek in half lengthwise. Clean thoroughly with water (to remove sandy grit.) Finally chopped the tough, dark green ends and then slice the tender, light green and white ends (keep separate.)
- Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
- Add the chopped woody stems and the chopped, dark green leeks. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in the remaining asparagus and leeks, cover with lid and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Mix in flour, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper, cook for 1 minute.
- Pour in wine and vegetable broth, bring to a boil.
- Lower to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off heat.
- With an immersion blender, puree the soup. (If using a regular blender, pour pureed soup back into pot.)
- Slowly mix in kefir or buttermilk, turn heat back to low and warm for 5 minutes.
- Before serving, mix in lemon zest and juice. Served with shaved cheese on top.
Below, check out all the cool ways our ReDux bloggers are reducing food waste and the recipes that will help you do the same in your kitchen!