I’ve been dehydrating food lately — a good means of storage and great if you see specials. Plus, making my own chips is enjoyable – zucchini and sweet potatoes make excellent chips.
Anyhow, there was a good price on asparagus, so I bought some, dehydrated it (along with some onion), and decided this would be a great basis for an asparagus soup.
I went with coconut milk as a base, over cream. And since I went with coconut milk, I decided to give this distinctly-not Thai vegetable a Tom Kha approach, as Tom Kha contains so many of my favorite flavors in one spot.
This should serve two or three people:
1.25 – 1.5 cups low sodium vegetable broth. (Use home-made, or one of those organic boxes you find in the supermarket.)
1 can (approx 13 ounces) of coconut milk. I am partial to Thai Kitchen’s brand, but La Cena is also good.
Dehydrated and ground asparagus (see below). I had dehydrated 8 ounces, minus the bottoms, so I suspect this was 7 ounces of original material.
Dehydrated and ground onion, from one medium to smallish onion. My onion had browned a little, but that added a nice flavor.
4 ounces finely-sliced fresh shiitake (or other) mushrooms
Galangal — I used about five slivers from a Thai Kitchen jar that I picked up at Whole Wallet, but if you use ground, make sure it is fresh (there will be a scent) and use about a teaspoon.
1 tablespoon fish oil (optional). I like the translucent one from Nampla, which calls itself “Oyster Brand”, but the ingredient list says “anchovies”. For vegans or vegetarians reading this, this ingredient is optional.
Lemongrass – about half teaspoon, plus a few dried stems I’d gotten from Pensey’s.
Chili powder – to taste; I used 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of unsalted chipotle chili powder. This provided a mild bite with minimal heat. You are welcome to ratchet this up, of course.
Juice from 1/2 lime.
Pepper to taste.
Optional toppings to add at the end of preparation: Fresh asparagus tips, cilantro, thin-sliced scallion.
Prepping your Asparagus & Onions:
If you have a dehydrator, follow the instructions, and set the temperature at 125 degrees F. Snap off the tough bottoms and discard/compost. Break the stalks into 1 – 2 inch long segments, put into the dehydrator tray and keep the asparagus from touching each other. Dehydrate.
For the onions, slice to about 1/4 inch thicknesses, a mandoline helps. You can leave this as rings, or dice. Scatter on your dehydration tray, again not letting bits of onion touch other bits. Dehydrate at 125 degrees F.
If you use your oven, set your oven at the absolute lowest temperature it will go, and put all the above veggies on cookie sheets. Dehydrate, leaving the oven door just barely ajar (to give water a place to get out).
It takes longer to dehydrate using a dehydrator, but you are far much less likely to burn your veggies than in the oven. Timing will vary, depending on atmospheric humidity, thickness of your veggies, and factors like that. With the dehydrator, I feel free to leave the veggies while I run errands or do other things away from home. They’re not going to burn up. They are done when they feel crisp and dry to the touch.
Immediately take them and grind them in a coffee grinder (NOT the same one you use for your coffee beans!) Store until use in a jar with a tight fitting lid (unless you live in the desert and have no humidity to speak of.) You’ll be amazed as to how little a package of asparagus reduces down to! We’re all water…
Combine all ingredients in a stovetop pan (except the toppings).
Bring to a boil, while mixing, then reduce.
After about 5-10 minutes, cover. Allow to simmer gently for another 15 minutes. Serve, topping with optional garnishes. (Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find a good handful of fresh cilantro for a long while — if it lacks aroma, it will likely lack flavor.)