Nothing says spring more than a vibrant green asparagus and garlic scape soup! Use your choice of greens – kale, spinach, chard, or even mustard or dandelion greens – and make it creamy with either cauliflower or white sweet potato, depending on your preference and dietary need.
What are garlic scapes?
Turns out the familiar bulb of the garlic plant is not the only part that is edible. In the spring, so-called “hardneck” varieties of garlic plants also produce a thin, curly green stem with a seed-containing flower pod at the end. Growers and gardeners like myself, cut these stems, known as garlic “scapes,” off in order to allow more of the plants resources to concentrate in growing the bulb underground.
These garlic scapes are completely edible and provide a mild flavor, similar to that of shallots or chives. They also happen to be low-FODMAP while still providing some garlic flavor, which is an added bonus for people who experience digestive issues from eating regular garlic.
Last year, I experimented with ways to preserve that garlic flavor for clients and readers who desire a low-FODMAP garlic flavoring option and came up with this garlic scape salt. I made another batch this year with the remaining scapes from the hardneck garlic growing outside my office window so I can enjoy it year round!
Nutritional benefits of garlic scapes
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, garlic scapes are a good source of vitamin C and calcium. They confer the same benefits as found in garlic cloves, which means they could help to prevent heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cancer, and also provide immune system support and reduce inflammation.
Though asparagus is now shipped in to American supermarkets from around the world year-round, it is best to eat it in the spring when you can eat it quickly after harvest since. A single serving of asparagus provides all the vitamin K you need for a day and some very powerful and unique anti-inflammatory properties, including quercetin.
I originally made this soup with dandelion greens but found the bitterness of it to be too strong for my personal taste. Kale or spinach provided the nicest flavor and I think it would also be great with collard greens, though you might need to cook them longer before pureeing.
Cauliflower or sweet potato
Adding one of these two will provide a dairy-free creamy sensation and body to this soup. If you are on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) or need it to be low in overall carbohydrates, opt for 1/2 pound of cauliflower.
As always, use the best quality broth you can get. To make this vegan use a vegetable broth, but know that you’ll be missing the benefits of a quality bone broth. I strongly recommend making your own bone broth, but if you must rely on premade, you can buy AIP-compliant broth from ShopAIP.
Tools for soup making success
One of the handful of kitchen gadgets I’d never want to give up is my immersion blender because it makes soup making like this so much easier. Yes, I could transfer the soup to my high powered Blendtec, and it would probably end up being even faster, but being able to puree the soup right in the same pan that I cooked it in minimizes mess and the possibility of burning myself. I recently learned that they are not all the same, however!
After putting up with a low power one for about 15 years, I finally upgraded and bought myself this one.
Now, on to this delightful springtime recipe!
Asparagus and Garlic Scape Soup Recipe
- ½ pound asparagus
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 garlic scapes
- ½ pound cauliflower, cut into florets OR white sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
- 4 cups broth
- 2 cups kale, spinach, or other leafy greens
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)
- Heat about 1 cup water to boiling in a large saucepan.
- Cut off top 2-3 inches of asparagus and set aside the rest for step 5.
- Place asparagus tips in a steamer basket and place in saucepan over boiling water. Cover and steam for 3 minutes. Drain water and place asparagus tips in a bowl of ice water and set aside.
- Return now empty saucepan to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Roughly chop garlic scapes and remaining asparagus stalks. Add to saucepan along with cauliflower or sweet potato and cook, stirring constantly, until everything is vibrant green and slightly soft (3-4 minutes).
- Add salt and broth. Bring to a simmer and then cover and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add greens and cook for 2 minutes or until greens are wilted and other vegetables are very soft.
- Remove from heat and use immersion blender to puree soup.
- Add lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Drain the asparagus tips from step 3 and add to the soup before serving.
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