Creamy Asparagus Soup with Tilapia

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This is a pretty versatile recipe in that you can substitute many different vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke hearts) for the soup, and any mildly flavored protein.  By changing the protein, this recipe becomes vegan.

If you haven’t worked with quinoa before, you really should try it.  It is a delicious and versatile little grain that’s packed with fiber and other nutritional goodies. The flavor is approximately that of brown rice, and it cooks up similarly.  The texture is similar to couscous.   It keeps well in the fridge for several days, and can be re-heated for sweet or savory meals.  If you prefer, of course, you can use rice instead.

This may look complicated, but once you have made it, it is easy to re-heat some soup and quinoa for a snack or light lunch, or cook up a simple protein like a chicken tenderloin and combine it for a quick dinner.

Ingredients

(makes 2 servings, with lots of soup and quinoa left over for later meals)

  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa (any color, but the white is usually least expensive and easiest to find)
  • 2 tilapia fillets (or other mild white fish)
  • 1 bunch (approx 1 pound) asparagus
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 medium size yellow onion or 2-3 large shallots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup whole milk or sour cream, or 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger, or 1 tablespoon minced fresh
  • Sea salt, pepper, olive oil
  • grated nutmeg (optional)

Instructions

If the tilapia fillets are frozen, thaw them by placing them in ziplock bags under cool running water while you prepare the soup.
Quinoa: 
Prepare the quinoa per package directions.  It will stay hot with the lid on if it finishes before the rest.

Soup:

  1. Cut the tips from the asparagus, chop into chunks, and set aside
  2. Chop the rest of the asparagus stalk into 1/2″ pieces
  3. Heat olive oil in soup pot over medium-high heat
  4. Stir fry the pieces of asparagus stalks with onion, garlic, and fresh ginger (if using) until onion is translucent (3 minutes)
  5. Add 4 cups of vegetable broth to pot, and bring to a simmer
  6. Boil until asparagus is tender (10-12 minutes)
  7. Set pot in cold water and stir until it is cool enough to handle
  8. Puree in blender or food processor until smooth (return some of the liquid to the pot if it won’t fit in blender)
  9. Stir in dairy or coconut milk, chopped asparagus tips, dried ginger (if using), salt, and pepper
  10. Set over medium-low heat to gently warm (10-15 minutes). Stir occasionally

Note: if you have an immersion/stick blender, skip steps 7 and 8 and just puree the soup in the pot.  Let sit for about 10 minutes off the heat before adding dairy, to prevent curdling.  You don’t need to re-warm (step 10) if you do this.

Tilapia:

  1. About 6 minutes before soup and quinoa are done, rinse tilapia fillets and pat them dry with paper towels.
  2. rub one side of the fillet with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in pan over medium-high heat
  4. Place fillets seasoning side-down and let cook undisturbed for 3 minutes.
  5. While it is cooking, sprinkle the other side of the fillet with salt and pepper
  6. Carefully flip with sharp metal spatula and cook an additional 3-4 minutes
  7. If the fillets aren’t white all the way through and flake easily, cook an additional minute with aluminum foil over the top to trap heat.  They are done when there is no more pink and the flesh flakes apart with a fork.

Finish

Place 1/2 cup cooked quinoa in a soup bowl, top with a tilapia fillet, and follow with 1 cup of soup.  Garnish with a sprinkle of grated nutmeg, if desired.

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