Asparagus Soup & Pistachio Crusted Salmon

So far on this blog, I've shown y'all some of my project meals — meals I spend a week researching and taking notes on, and then usually another week preparing everything for. This post is going to veer from that path; this is one of my throw-some-stuff-together-and-see-what-happens meals — and it's a good one!

I've been making this about once a week for lunch, as it all comes together in about 30 minutes. This has become a go-to feel-good meal lately since it's quick, veggie-packed, and great for clearing out the fridge.

The star of this soup is asparagus, but really, you can put damn near anything green laying around in your fridge in here. This recipe is also dairy-free if you want it to be, and you could certainly keep this vegetarian, as well.

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Asparagus Soup & Pistachio Crusted Salmon

I made this in a little 2qt. stockpot; makes enough for 2-3 portions. You will need an immersion blender/ blender.

Things to Measure

  • One bunch of asparagus (but that's already measured for you, so it doesn't really count)

Use What You've Got:

  • Alliums — a family that includes onions, shallots, and leeks. You could use any of these, or a combination of all of them; whatever type of onions you've got. A few handfuls of green onions would work. I used half a yellow onion.

  • Celery — I used a few stalks of regular ol' celery. Fennel here would also be lovely.

  • Garlic — measure with your heart.

  • Zucchini — A zucchini brings a wonderful creamy texture to the final soup while staying on our green theme. If you don't have zucchini, a small white or yellow potato variety would work great here.

  • Other green stuff — Check out what other greens you've got. I ended up adding probably a cup or so of frozen green peas and half a bag of wilty-looking spinach from the fridge. As mentioned above, leeks and fennel would be super welcome here. Broccoli would be delicious. If you've got arugula going limp, toss that in. An avocado and a poblano could pull this in an entirely different direction. Choose your own adventure!

  • Wine — I like Sherry in... almost everything. If you're going to keep one around, get a decent one. A splash of a dry white would be delicious here, too. Or you could leave this out entirely. I used a few splashes of sherry... maybe, an 1/8 cup.

  • Broth — I've always got homemade chicken broth stashed away somewhere. A box is just fine, better than bullion and hot water does the trick, too.

  • Spices — I went warm and toasty on the spices for this one. Freshly grated nutmeg (1/4-ish of a pod — if you're into nutmeg and you haven't bought fresh, it will change your life, I promise), fennel seeds (1tsp-ish), caraway seeds (1tsp-ish), and mustard powder (1/4 tsp-ish) all made it to this party. And, of course, salt and pepper to suit your taste.

  • Dairy — I kept this entirely dairy-free. However, a splash of milk, half and half, or heavy cream would lend this soup some richness. A sprinkle of parmesan cheese could take this over the top. Whatever you're feeling.

  • Protein — I've usually got a couple of small filets of salmon in the fridge, so that's what I've been using for this. But I think you could really use any fish you want here. Or, leave the fish out entirely! I've also always got raw, peeled shrimp in the freezer — those thaw super quick and would be an easy protein topping.

  • Nuts — pistachios kept with the green theme here, but anything goes — walnuts, pecans, almonds, even pepitas would be great to crust fish in.

Throw it On:

  • For toppings, pretty much any of the things you put in the soup are fair game. Extra pistachios, some flaky salt, cracked black pepper, a few swirls of olive oil, maybe a cheese sprinkle.

  • If you're looking for a little more brightness and acidity, a lemon wedge to finish or a few drops of a vinegar, maybe white wine or champagne, will do the trick.

Make it:

  1. In a small pot, I started by removing the asparagus tips and sauteeing them over medium-high heat with a bit of olive oil and salt until bright green and slightly tender. Set aside for later.

  2. If you're using any whole spices, such as fennel seeds and caraway seeds, lightly toast these in a dry pan over medium heat until you can just see wisps of smoke coming up from the pan and everything smells toasty. Grind finely in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and set aside.

  3. The rest of these veggies are going to get blitzed with the immersion blender, so don't worry about cutting anything perfectly. Go with whatever rough chop feels right today.

  4. Chop whatever onions and celery combination you're using, and sautee in olive oil over medium heat until softened and translucent.

  5. If you're using wine, deglaze your pan at this point.

  6. Throw in the rest of any veggies you're using, any spices, add broth just to cover, and bring up to a low boil.

  7. For the fish — heat your oven to 350°. Roughly chop your pistachios or other nuts of choice. I like when there's some fine powdery texture nuts mixed in with larger chunks; more textural diversity. My pistachios were unsalted, so I added salt and pepper to the chopped mixture to season it as you would with breadcrumbs.

  8. Pat your fish dry, lightly coat in oil, and then roll in the pistachio mixture. I put my fish on a parchment-covered baking tray. With the leftover pistachios that didn't immediately stick to the fish, I just sort of patted them down on top of it. I drizzled a teensy bit more olive oil over the crusted fish.

  9. Bake until fish is done to your liking — for my small salmon filet, this was only about 12 minutes. If you're not accustomed to knowing when things are done, start poking meats and fish as you go (I'm serious). Over time, you won't need a thermometer, you'll be able to tell doneness by touch alone.

  10. While the fish cooks, blend the soup until smooth. If you'd like a thinner soup, add more broth. My immersion blender is one of my favorite kitchen tools, but regardless of if you're using that or a traditional blender — be careful blending hot liquids!

  11. Once blended, stir in the asparagus tips, reserving some if you're going for fancy plating. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

  12. Top with your pistachio-crusted fish filet and any other toppings that make your heart happy. I added more chopped pistachios, Maldon salt, fresh cracked black pepper, and a swirl of olive oil.

  13. Enjoy!

This dish is a little different every time I make it but always feels luxurious and rich even though it's packed with veggies and healthy fats and proteins. This is a meal that's heavy on veg, not bland and boring, and made in under 30 minutes — a win all the way around.

If you try your hand at creating something similar, I'd love to see what choices you made and hear how it turned out!

I hope you all get in the kitchen and have some fun with it!