ASPARAGUS, SPINACH, CHARD & QUINOA SOUP
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
• 2 large yellow onions, chopped
• 1 bunch asparagus tips
• 1 teaspoon salt, divided
• 2 tablespoons plus 3 cups water, divided
• 1/4 cup quinoa
• 1 bunch green chard (about 1 pound)
• 14 cups gently packed spinach (about 12 ounces), any tough stems trimmed
• 4 cups vegetable broth, store-bought or homemade
• Big pinch of cayenne pepper
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste
1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over high heat. Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add 2 tablespoons water, and cover. Cook, stirring frequently until the pan cools down and then occasionally, always covering the pan again, until the onions are reduced and have a deep caramel color, 25 to 30 minutes.
2. While onions are cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the asparagus tips and blanch for one minute; then drain and transfer asparagus to a bowl full of ice water. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, combine 3 cups water and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a soup pot or Dutch oven; add quinoa. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Trim the white ribs out of the chard (save for another use, such as to add to a stir-fry or other soup). Coarsely chop the chard greens and spinach.
4. When the quinoa has cooked for 15 minutes, stir in the chard greens. Return to a simmer; cover and cook for 10 minutes. When the onions are caramelized, stir a little of the simmering liquid into them; add them to the quinoa along with the spinach, asparagus, broth, and cayenne. Return to a simmer, cover, and cook, stirring once, until the spinach is tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes more.
5. Puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender until perfectly smooth or in a regular blender in batches (return it to the pot). Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste, and add more lemon juice if desired. Garnish each bowl of soup with a drizzle of olive oil.
Makes eight servings.
Per serving: 97 calories/4 g protein/ 4 g fat