Creamy Asparagus & Jameed Soup
Spring is almost here, despite the still crisp cold days but the bright sun, the birds chirping, and snow melting are clear and promising signs of warmer days ahead. A stroll to the souk (market) and you start to find bundles of emerald green asparagus another indication of all the spring produce ahead.
Every year, when asparagus is in season (it’s now till May) a big pot of silky, cream-laced asparagus soup is always the first thing I make. This vibrant soup packs in the bright freshness I crave this time of year while still delivering all the comfort I expect from a creamy hot bowl of soup.
But this creamy asparagus soup is made without heavy cream, — it’s made with an unusual ingredient; Jameed yogurt that’s puréed with the softened asparagus to silky perfection.
Jameed yogurt (Arabic: جميد, literally means "hardened in Arabic") has a distinct fermented, slightly tangy and salty taste (I can possibly compare it ever so slightly to Pecorino Romano cheese just to give you an idea if you are not familiar with Jameed). The complex flavors of jameed compliments the fresh asparagus pretty well and gives this soup the creamy element that we love with flavors that are amplified , and you can’t get from heavy cream alone.
This soup is the perfect start for early spring because both the asparagus and the Jameed yogurt are in peak season. Jameed is produced by Bedouins during this time of the year when milk (goat or ewe’s milk) is at its freshest and is produced in surplus amounts.
Jameed yogurt is usually the main ingredient in Mansaf (the most beloved and national dish of Jordan). Mansaf is Always Served on a large platter called سدر covered with a thin flatbread, topped with a bed of ghee scented rice, a generous portion of melt in your mouth lamb and the Jameed sauce. More about the preparation of traditional mansaf on my IG story.
Drawing from Bedouin traditions, Jordanians and Arab hosts often prepare mansaf as a show of appreciation and hospitality for their guests. It is also commonly served for special occasions.
But today this hearty, full of flavor asparagus in jameed soup is served in hopes of warm weather, spring and a new set of fresh produce ahead ❤️
Asparagus & Jameed Soup
Serves 4 to 6
PREP TIME: 5 -10 minutes
COOK TIME 20 minutes to 25 minutes
2 pounds fresh asparagus (about 2 bunches)
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 tablespoons ghee
1 tsp sumac
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (Watch for your salt as the jameeed is pretty salty)
4 cups low sodium or sodium free chicken or vegetable broth about 32 ounces
17.6 Oz liquid Jameed**
**If you are not using prepared liquid Jameed
Make sure you don’t dilute with broth. This measurement is for a concentrated Jameed mixture
liquid Jameed: prepared brand you can purchase in the USA is Ziyad its a product of Jordan
Jameed balls ready for drying and use. Cooking jameed from a hard ball requires soaking and then blending till you get a smooth creamy consistency. to get real karak style jameed in the USA you can get it here
Wash your asparagus well and trim about 1-inch off the ends . The ends tend to be dry fibrous. You can reserve the ends to make a veggie stock if you wish . Chop your asparagus spears into bite size pieces about 1/2 am inch.
Finely chop the onion and mince 2 garlic cloves.
Melt the ghee in a Dutch oven or a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the asparagus stalks, garlic, salt, and black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. (Watch for your salt as the jameeed is pretty salty)
Pour in 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Then add in the liquid jameeed stir well to combine it will appear cloudy at first but it will come together quickly. Reduce the heat to simmer, and simmer uncovered until the asparagus is tender but still bright green, 8 to 12 minutes.
Using a hand held immersion blender, Or if you are using a regular blender make sure you then blend soup in batches and cover well so you don't burn yourself from the hot steam. Blend until you get the desired creaminess. Add the sumac and stir to combine.
Serve hot. I love to drizzle the top with a drizzle of warm ghee.
Jameed (Arabic: جميد, literally means "hardened") is a hard dried yogurt or laban often made from ewe or goat's milk. The traditional preparation of laban Jameed is done by Bedouin communities. The milk is kept in a fine woven cheesecloth to make a thick yogurt. Salt is added daily to thicken the yogurt even more and the outside of the yogurt-filled cheesecloth is rinsed with water to allow any remaining whey to seep through. After a few days of salting the yogurt, it becomes very dense and can be removed from the cheesecloth and shaped into round balls. It is then set to dry for a few days. If it is dried in the sun it becomes yellow; if it is dried in the shade it remains white. It is important that the jameed is dry to the core because any dampness can spoil the preservation process. Jameed is the primary ingredient used to make mansaf, the national dish of Jordan.
For a video on how jameed is made in a Palestinian Bedouin community near Hebron click here.
Season: You will start finding asparagus in the market late February to June, with April being the peak.
Picking Asparagus: Fresh asparagus will be bright green and crisp with no signs of shriveling or wilting. The tender tips may have a purplish cast, but they should be firm and tight, and not mushy.
Prepping Asparagus: The ends are thick and fibrous, just trim it and you can use it if you are making vegetable stock. Take take the end of the asparagus between your thumb and forefinger and bend until it breaks. Usually its right where the stalks turn from white into green. Then using that as an indication and line up all of the spears in a row and slice off the ends all at once
Storing Asparagus: Trim about an inch from the bottoms of the stalks and place them in a big jar with a little water in the bottom. Cover the top loosely with a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Change the water daily to help keep them crisp and vibrant. You can also wrap the ends with a damp paper towel and store the stalks in a plastic bag in the fridge.