Brown Rice Soup with Asparagus
Trim the tough ends off the asparagus stalks and discard. Steam the asparagus until tender yet crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain it in a colander, then rinse under cold water. Let the asparagus cool for a few minutes. When completely cooled, cut into 1-inch pieces, reserving 1/4 cup of tips for garnish.
Coat the bottom of a large pot with the olive oil. Add the celery, onion, carrot and thyme. Cover and cook over low heat for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the vegetable stock and cooked rice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool a bit.
Carefully transfer small batches to a blender and blend until smooth. Return all the blended mixture to a pot. Stir in the asparagus, scallions, parsley, soy sauce, pepper sauce and ground pepper. Return to a simmer for 2 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with reserved asparagus tips and parsley sprigs.
Tips from Rosie's Kitchen
I usually use a combination of wild rice and brown rice for this soup. It is sold together and you can find it at any grocery store, or mix your own. You may discover that you have some rice on the shelf that you haven't cooked yet and making this soup gives you an opportunity to use it up.
To Cook Brown Rice: If you want to use plain brown rice, cook 1 cup rice in 2 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of salt and olive oil, for 45 minutes. Or, use leftover cooked rice (you'll need about 2 cups; just skip the first step of the recipe in that case). If asparagus is out of season, or if you don't want to use it, you can use broccoli and make this soup a year-round favorite.