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Carb Solutions: Asparagus Soup Cleanse

Image of Cream of Asparagus Soup
Over half of the U.S. adult population, some 154 million, qualify as being overweight or obese. Another 29 million of us have Diabetes, many as a direct result of being overweight. Then there are the 23.9 million overweight children who are dutifully following the example of their XXL adult role models. Diabetes and these extra pounds cost this country billions annually in both medical and economic resources; not to mention the effect these weight-related maladies have on a person’s overall mental well-being and happiness. However, both diabetes and being overweight are very manageable, even preventable, with a few lifestyle tweaks. By maintaining a sensible diet in conjunction with some consistent exercise, no matter how minimal, we can all be in total control of our own weight. One easy way to start taking that control is to make decisions about the foods we eat based on the glycemic index [GI] and glycemic load [GL].

Simply put, our bodies convert all foods into sugar calories that provide energy to the body via the blood stream. The Glycemic Index assigns a score of 1 to 100 to all foods based how speedy the body converts that food into sugar. Foods that break down slowly enable the body to assimilate theses calories of energy more efficiently without overwhelming the body with more sugar than it can process. While this is especially important for diabetics who process sugars much slower than others, everyone can benefit from eating foods that have low glycemic scores since they also reduce appetite and encourage the metabolism to burn body fat. Conversely, a diet of foods high on the glycemic charts have been proven to actually increase appetite and impede effective fat oxidation.

A QUICKIE GLYCEMIC PRIMER:
  • The glycemic index of a food compares its effect on blood sugar level to that of pure glucose, which has a score of 100. White breads, which are made of processed white flour, are at the top of this scale, scoring a “perfect” 100 on the glycemic index. For perspective, a score of 55 or below denotes a low-glycemic-index food; 70 or above is considered very high. Serving size is not a consideration in arriving at a food’s Glycemic Index number.
  • The glycemic load, on the other hand, focuses on how much digestible carbohydrates (sugars) a food contains in a typical single serving, which is defined as approximately 3.5 ounces. For glycemic load, a score of 20 or more is high, while 10 or less is low.
Though the harvest began in late February, fresh asparagus peaks in quality and volume this month, evidenced by all promotional sales dominating retail produce isles. Apart from providing a wholly unique and flavorful taste, the veggie offers a myriad of nutritional benefits, including its ability to help combat Type-2 diabetes. A recent study in England on rats (volunteers, no doubt) showed that small amounts of asparagus extract appeared to help with blood sugar control, while even more significant amounts also increased insulin production as well. Other research found that asparagus consumption was linked to an 81-percent increase in the body’s ability to absorb and use glucose. Asparagus is also a good source of dietary fiber, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, and several minerals. Just one cup has three grams of fiber and only five grams of carbohydrates!

And for that elephant in the room…consuming asparagus regularly may lead to high urine and salt excretion, which is key to kidney health as well as being instrumental in maintaining proper blood sugar level balance. However, for many, asparagus has the reputation of causing one’s urine to have an odd smell. There is no cause for alarm as this is simply the result of the metabolism processing an acidic compound in the vegetable. Interestingly, if one does not have a certain gene that sulfur-like smell is not detected; similar to why some people taste only soap when eating cilantro.

While April seems to provide an abundant supply of this tasty crop, behind the barn, it takes two to three years for an asparagus plant to reach full production Growers only harvest from each plant for a short period of time the first few years to promote plant growth. Like strawberries, once fully mature, asparagus plants are harvested several times throughout a 90-day season. Asparagus will grow sometimes six to seven inches in a day during the harvest season; a plant will generally produce a marketable crop for eight to twelve years depending on weather, soil conditions and growing practices The early Romans were the first to cultivate the vegetable as a crop, calling it "asparag" which meant “shoot.” In the 16th century, records show English-speaking countries using the term "sparagus" and “sparrow grass.” Sometime in the 19th century, the cultivation of plants started in the United States and so did the word “asparagus.”

One of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh asparagus is to simply toss the spears in a mix of olive and lemon pepper, then roast for about ten minutes in a high-heat oven or grill them on the barby. However, considering the April showers that usually come with this versatile veggie’s springtime volume, here’s a flavorful soup recipe. There is absolutely nothing more comforting than a bowl of soup on a damp day to warm one to the bones. This one has been laced with few drops of hot sauce to help in that cause! A large pot of soup can be stored for a week in the fridge. And if the clouds clear, this soup can also be served chilled or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Cream of Asparagus Soup
Serves 4
Image of Ingredients for Cream of Asparagus Soup
Ingredients
2 tablespoon butter, unsalted
4 green onions, diced white ends only/retain green tops for garnish
1 lb. thin asparagus spears, woody ends removed, chopped into 1-inch pieces
3 teaspoon Melissa’s Minced Garlic
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Green onion tops, chopped (garnish)
A few drops of Melissa’s Costa Azul hot sauce (garnish)

Directions
Image of asparagus spears sauté
Sauté the diced onions in butter in a soup pot over medium heat until softened, then add in the asparagus pieces and cook tender and firm, not mushy. Then add the chicken broth, garlic, salt & pepper to taste and simmer on low flame for another 10 minutes.
Image of cream of asparagus soup preparation
Let mixture cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a blender or food processor – puree to a smooth pea soup thick.
Image of asparagus cream
Return the soup mixture to the pot and stir in the heavy whipping cream as well as more salt and pepper to taste. Simmer another 5 minutes. Serve topped with chopped green onion tops and a squirt of hot sauce to taste.
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