Creamy Asparagus, Zucchini & Spinach Soup

This soup packs in the veggies and is super delicious! The cream makes it nice and rich, you could easily serve this at a dinner party, and wow your guests. It’s a nice comforting bowl of soup, perfect for a rather brisk spring night like tonight, and a great way to get your greens!

I needed a nutrient hit and looking in the fridge, I had the gorgeous asparagus, zucchini & English spinach that came in my produce bag this week, that is sourced locally and straight from the farm. Perfect soup ingredients, and I didn’t need to leave the house as I had some good chicken stock, lactose free cream, garlic & some speck (bacon) in the fridge. Winning!

The fresher the veggies you can get, the tastier this soup will be. I’ve noticed such a difference since getting my produce from local growers. The produce is freshly picked and hasn’t been sitting around in cold storage, or being shipped across the country or the world to get to your plate. And if it’s in season, it’s generally cheaper too. If it’s out of season, it’s being shipped from another country usually, so you are paying more for it.

For a vegetarian version, just leave out the bacon, the soup tasted great before I added the bacon. Although if you are a bacon-eater, do leave it in, it adds a lovely smokiness to the soup, lets face it, everything tastes better with bacon : ) Bacon is what stands between me and vegetarianism, I’d happily convert, I eat mostly meat-free anyway, but a life with no bacon….. I’m just not ready to say goodbye yet (which really shits me to be honest, because I really do love pigs)

Suitable for: gluten, egg, nut & lactose free diets. Also vegetarian friendly, just leave out the bacon : )

Olive oil
50g butter
150g speck, or 3 slices bacon chopped (leave out for vegetarian version)
1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Large bunch of asparagus, or two small bunches, roughly chopped (if you want it to look fancy, keep the tips aside. Grill them up before serving and put on top, if not chuck them all in)
5 medium size zucchini, roughly chopped
1 bunch English spinach, roughly chopped
1 litre good quality chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian version)
6 sprigs of thyme, leave removed
300ml cream (I use lactose free)
Salt & cracked pepper to taste

1. In a large saucepan or stove proof casserole pot, add a good glug of olive oil and the butter. Heat over a medium heat on the stove top.
2. If using speck or bacon, I cook it up now, so that it gets the bacon flavour in the oil. Cook it up until crispy, and then using a slotted spoon so that all the oil remains, remove the bacon and place aside in a bowl to use at the end.
3. Add the leek, zucchini, garlic & asparagus and stir for 2 mins or so, until the leek has softened. Then add the stock and stir through. Add the thyme leaves and season with salt & pepper to taste. You need salt to help bring out the flavour in the vegetables, just remember the bacon will add some salt so don’t over salt. I like a lot of cracked pepper in mine. Cook over a low heat for about 20 mins, until the veggies are really soft.
4. Add the chopped spinach and stir through until the leaves have softened.
5. Let the soup cool slightly (I don’t bother, just be careful as it’s hot) and then blend using a stick blender (or food processor or blender).
6. Return to the stove, over a low heat, and add the cream and the bacon (keep some aside for a garnish if you like). Heat until the soup is just bubbling, and then it’s ready to serve.
7. If you want to garnish it, use the asparagus tips, bacon, a few thyme leaves and a swirl of cream. Enjoy!