I cannot help but be in love with the optimism of spring time. Even in a place that doesn’t experience much in the way of seasonal change, there is a distinct period–however fleeting–that feels like full on, unabashed spring. This year, that period happens to be now, beautifully timed with the equinox. Austin is blessedly dry, breezy and “cool” (aka, under 85 degrees). Seemingly over night, the trees have thickened with tender green. Highway dividers and field alike are freckled with bluebonnets, primrose, blackfooted daisy and prickly poppy. The gloaming seems to stretch for hours now and there is a wakened, vernal shimmer around town.
With the world outside beckoning me, and in the tradition of spring being a time for renewal and a cleaning-out, my food has become exceedingly simple. I want fast, bright food that feels light in my body even as it sustains me. This asparagus soup is just that. Chopping time included it takes about 15 minutes to make. You can swap broccoli or spinach for asparagus or combine a few green vegetables for more complex flavor.
Even if you live in a part of the world still cloaked in snow, early spring can be a wonderful time to start an internal thaw. Here are my rules of thumb for rational spring cleansing
-Eat a combination of cooked and raw foods
-Take a day (or several) off from alcohol to let your mind sharpen and your sleep deepen.
-If you suffer from allergies, steer clear of dairy and get your fat and protein from nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains and animal protein.
-Eat spring foods! Asparagus, dandelion greens, cress, fresh herbs, sprouts, young lettuces, radishes & turnips and their greens, these foods are designed to help your body shed retained water and jump start the metabolism after the starchier, earthier foods of winter.
-Work up a sweat every day if you can. Building heat from the inside can bring your energy in line with the shifting season, even if your brain and the weather are still suggesting hibernation.
-Soup as your last meal of the day is a lovely way to lighten the load on your digestive system without feeling deprived AND an easy way to pack in more than one serving of vegetables, if that feels like a challenge.
Lastly, as always, eat foods you enjoy in company you love. And for those of you who aren’t feeling the spring pep in your step yet, I’ve been there. We all work in slightly different rhythms. Not to worry, it will come eventually.
If you missed last year’s Spring Cleanse it is still available on the website and includes all you need and more to lighten up from the inside out with 7 days of seasonal, sensible eating.
Simple Springy Asparagus Soup
1 small leek
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small bunch of asparagus, trimmed of woody part of stem
handful of fresh basil or other herb
1 heaping T ghee (or butter or olive oil)
1 heaping t tahini
4-finger pinch nutritional yeast
1/4-1/2 cup raw cashews
salt and pepper to taste
lemon to garnish
-Cut the dark green from the leeks and discard them. Trim the root from the bulb and slice the leek in half, lengthwise. Using your fingers to separate the layers slightly, run each half under a faucet to remove any sand or dirt. Lay each half, cut-side down, on a cutting board and slice thin half moons.
-Heat the ghee in a heavy bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the leeks and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat slightly and sautee, stirring occasionally until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed garlic cloves and cook another 5 minutes.
-While the leek and garlic cook, cut the asparagus stalks into thirds. Add to the pot with enough water to cover the vegetables. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat then immediately reduce to a simmer for just a few minutes. The asparagus should be just cooked through and very bright green. Remove pot from heat and let cool slightly.
-While the soup cools, add tahini, nutritional yeast, basil, and cashews with another pinch of salt to a high speed blender. Pour the soup in and blend on high until you have a silky, pureed, vibrant green soup. Taste and adjust seasoning as you like.
-Serve immediately or let cool and store in fridge until you’re ready to eat. The soup may lose some of it’s brightness when stored. If you know you plan to store it and serve later you can puree without the basil and do that step before serving.
-Top with flaky sea salt, lots of black pepper and a squeeze of lemon (or yogurt, kefir, cashew cheese, chopped nuts, chopped herbs, …..)
p.s. For additional reading, a poem I like about spring green