Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pigeon Pea & Asparagus Soup - Sopa de Gandules con Esparragos

Making good soups at home with wholesome ingredients beats the shit out of the crap in the can.  Stocks are the basis of a good soup.  Stock making is a lost art.  I mean, who has time to make stocks, right?  Too busy.  Well, busy person stocks are one pot jobs, not too hard.  Another added benefit is that stocks freeze easily.  Please control what is in your food and make stocks and soups at home.

Soups are a great canvas for creativity in the kitchen.  Different ingredients, flavors, textures, temperatures, and garnishes provide the cook with endless combinations.  I puree and strain all of my soups, but that is personal preference.  What I can tell you is that soups that have a silky mouth feel and interesting presentations are always a hit in dinner parties.

Gandules of (Pigeon Peas) are popular in Caribbean cooking.  This legume contains high levels of protein, along with the amino acids methionine, lysine, and typtophan.  These beans can be purchased dried, canned or frozen.  Be aware that canned beans have higher sodium levels.

Spring is best for fresh asparagus; harvested commercially from late February to June, with April being the peak. I added it to this recipe because my local farmers market had some gorgeous product this week.  It seems like an odd pairing but I can honestly say that went along swimmingly with the pigeon peas.

Pigeon Pea & Asparagus Soup - Sopa de Gandules con Esparragos

2 strips bacon – diced
2 oz chorizo – diced
1 green bell pepper – seeded & diced
1 bird’s eye chili – seeded & diced
2 leeks – white & light green parts only – diced
2 shallots – diced

Spice Mix – all whole spices
Black peppercorns

8 oz tomato paste
350 ml Albarino Spanish white wine
Homemade vegetable stock
1 Meyer lemon – zested & juiced
3 bay leafs

2 – 15 oz canned Pigeon peas – drained of canning liquid
1 bunch asparagus – trimmed of tough woody end.
Olive Oil
Sea salt

In a sauté pan, toast the whole spices over medium heat.  Once you can smell the spices, take them off the heat.  Take care not to burn the spices, they will taste quite bitter.  Transfer to a coffee grinder, grind to a fine powder.

Cut the asparagus into 2 inch pieces.  Reserve some of the tips for the garnish.

In a stockpot, heat 2 tbs olive oil over medium heat.  Add the bacon and chorizo, cook to render the fat and crisp.  Add the green pepper, chili, leeks, and shallots.  Season with the spice mix.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Add the tomato paste.  Brown the tomato paste to remove some of the raw acidity, 5 to 7 minutes.  Deglaze with the white wine.  Add the lemon juice and zest.  Season with sea salt.

At this point, add the pigeon peas and asparagus.  Pour just enough vegetable stock to cover the veggies.  Add the bay leafs.  Reduce to the heat.  Simmer for 1 hour.  Check for seasoning, add salt if needed.

Reserve some of the pigeon peas for the garnish.  Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer.

To Present:
Ladle soup into a soup bowl.  Arrange some of the asparagus tips and pigeon peas in the center of the bowl.  Drizzle olive oil.

That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!


  1. This sounds wonderful and would be perfect for this chilly, rainy day.

  2. haber... i'd have to sub the bacon and sausage for something else, otherwise i'm digging all the flavors, especially the spice mixture. i grew up eating, get this....Campbell's asparagus soup! and i looooooved it! que loca, right!

  3. This is really a great soup..espcially for today. It's rainy and cold in New York.

  4. I have not made a bean soup in a long while, will have to get me some ham hock and make something...yours looks great!

  5. My eyes are playing tricks on me again, Lazaro! At one glance, I thought the title Esparragos was Escargoes & I was trying find my fave snails in your soup. Then I realized my silly err. Hahaha! Must be the crave for Escargoes that made me go crazy.

    Looking at your soup makes my hungry. I'm going to search for my snacks now. Till then! Adieus :)

  6. Wow., I like that you've used cumin in this, the flavours would be awesome together - it sure looks a treat too. Beautiful Lazz as always :)

  7. I love your latin flavors, Lazaro. I love doing bean soups instead of regular dinner dishes... so good and satifying... love chorizo and the meyer lemon sounds so good!

  8. Such a beautiful soup with beautiful flavors. Love the bit of citrus here too, excellent!

  9. I remember this soup as it was your profile picture! It's a classic Lazaro Cooks'soup.


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