Asparagus & Mushroom Soup with Boerenkaas

What’s in season in May? On Vancouver Island we have fresh asparagus, celery, kale, mushrooms, green onion, peas, potatoes, radish, rhubarb, spinach, and turnip.

We have a lovely roasted asparagus soup topped with delicious Boerenkaas. 

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt & freshly ground pepper

1 cup chopped onion

2 cups chopped mushrooms

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

3 tablespoons arborio rice

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Shaved Boerenkaas 

Directions   

Preheat oven to 400°. Toss asparagus with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, until tender and browned in spots.

Meanwhile, in a medium to large pot, heat the remaining olive oil and cook the onion over on medium heat until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Toss in the chopped mushrooms and let them release their moisture, about 10 mins. After their moisture is released, they will begin to brown. Cook for another 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the mushrooms are nicely caramelized. 

Add the roasted asparagus, chicken stock, arborio rice and nutmeg and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook the soup until the rice is very soft, about 20 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Or, transfer the soup to a blender and puree, then return to the pot. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a generous amount of shaved Boerenkaas.

National Poutine Day delicious poutine

Poutine, Reigning Champion of Canadian Junk Food

Do you pronounce Canada’s favourite dish “pou-tin” or “poo-teen”? Well, that depends on where you are and who you are talking to.

In the heart of poutine country in Quebec and New Brunswick, francophones vote “pou-tin” all the way. Outside of those provinces, it’s straight anglo with “pou-tine”.

Either way you slice it, poutine is the best thing to happen to potatoes since, well, cheese curds and gravy! And with National Poutine Day coming up on April 11, we ask you: 

Eat in? Or take out?

Origin

Coming out of mid-century Quebec, poutine’s true origin is not confirmed. One story from 1950’s Warwick, Quebec has a restaurant customer ask for fries, cheese, and gravy. To which the owner proclaimed, “Ça va faire une maudite poutine,” or, “That’s going to make a dreadful mess.”

Indeed. Poutine is a hot mess of the very best kind. What makes it so good?  

The Curds

Squeaky cheese curds are the benchmark for the very best traditional poutine.  You’ll only hear the squeak when the curds are very fresh, and some curd-experts insist that a curd must be eaten before it spends even one night in a fridge. However, although not as noticeable after refrigeration, the squeak will usually last a day or two before it finally dissipates. If you want the squeak, your best bet is to stop at our Cheese Shop in Courtenay (635 McPhee) around 1:30 on a Wednesday afternoon and you’ll be able to pick up a bag still warm from the vat. The taste, texture and shape also make it the perfect snacking cheese, as you can eat it straight from the bag like popcorn. We have customers who pick up two bags when they come to the shop on Wednesdays – one for making poutine, and one for the drive home.

The Gravy

Some gravies are lighter and chicken stock based, while others are dark and beefy. We prefer our gravy somewhere in the middle. For that, we look to French-Canadian and tv host, Ricardo. His recipe uses a 2/3 blend of both chicken and beef, which we think is the perfect balance. 

The Fries

We like our fries thick, hand-cut, and twice fried. The fries have to be heavily crispy to stand up to hot gravy, and will provide the best textural contrast in a meal with only three star ingredients.

From Vancouver BC, to St. John’s, NL you can find poutine in menus across the nation. When it comes to eat in vs take out, we like mastering the ingredients and preparing the best poutine at home. While there are countless recipes for it’s preparation, we like Ricardo’s recipe for Brown Gravy Sauce for Poutine.

Poutine with Ricardo’s Brown Gravy Sauce.
Image from the recipe link.

How to Choose Camembert

Native to Camembert, Normandy in France, this surface-ripened cow’s milk cheese is a brilliant foil to tart and crisp fruit, sweet jams, and bright, fruity white wines. But how to choose a good Camembert?  We’ve compiled six tips to help you get the most out of your soft cheese:

  1. Camembert is a bloomy cheese with an edible rind. Bloomy rind cheeses are considered a soft cheese and while choosing whether to eat the rind of Camembert is a matter of preference, most people enjoy the additional flavour it gives to the cheese.
  2. To get the flavour you most like, experiment! Check the best-before date. The flavour of our soft cheese changes dramatically during its 45-day life. When it’s first produced, it has a drier, lighter texture and somewhat tangy flavour. About mid-way through, the cheese will become creamier and stronger, and in the last two weeks it will develop its strongest flavour with the cheese becoming almost runny accompanied by a mild ammonia smell. Experiment and find out what taste you like the best!
  3. Do the squeeze test. If you want to eat your cheese tonight, gently squeeze the sides of the round. There should be a little give when the cheese is ripe.
  4. Keep your drink cold and your cheese warm. For best flavour, bring your soft cheese to room temperature (about 30 minutes) before serving.
  5. Pairing your cheese. Apples are a classic companion to cheese, but the mildness of brie and camembert are particularly suited to zippier acidic flavours like apricots, figs or a fruit preserve.
  6. Storing. You can eat part of a round of brie or camembert and re-wrap it in the breathable Natural Pastures wrapping, but for even better results, wrap just the cut area in plastic and then use its original wrapping to keep the rind from drying out.
Grilled Shrimp & Natural Pastures Camembert Stuffed Mushroom Caps

RECIPE: Grilled Shrimp & Natural Pastures Camembert Stuffed Mushroom Caps

INGREDIENTS

  • 150 grams cooked shrimp
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil- Salt & pepper to taste
  • 150 grams Natural Pastures Comox Camembert, cut into small cubes
  • 12 large mushroom, stems removed

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat barbecue to medium heat.
  2. Combine all ingredients, except mushrooms, in a bowl.
  3. Spoon into mushroom caps, ensuring 1-2 pieces of cheese end up on top.
  4. Place on grill, close barbecue lid, and cook 5-6 minutes, or until mushrooms are just tender and cheese is melted.

Try our these mushroom caps with a dry Rose, a Gamay, a Pinot Noir or a Merlot. If you’re looking for a smoother taste, reach for our Triple Cream Camembert. This one is a decadent, smoother, and richer Camembert with a creamy finish that complements the delicate note of mushroom.

You’ll be surprised and delighted. 

Our Pick for Healthiest Cheese Might Surprise You.

We love cheese – obviously!

It’s decadent, rich, and so tasty. Cheese is also an excellent source of vital nutrients such as calcium, protein and vitamin A. But along with the benefits of cheese, eating too much can hamper your clean eating resolution for 2019.

Not ready to dispense with our favourite indulgence, we asked ourselves: what is the healthiest cheese you can eat? Well, it turns out: that depends on your health goals.

A Little Goes a Long Way


Perhaps our favourite way to indulge is by choosing stronger flavoured cheeses, and using less of them. For full flavoured cheeses we recommend our Aged Boerenkaas, Smoked Boerenkaas, Parmadammer, King’s Peak, and Pacific Wildfire.

Perhaps our favourite way to indulge is by choosing stronger flavoured cheeses, and using less of them. For full flavoured cheeses we recommend our Aged Boerenkaas, Smoked Boerenkaas, Parmadammer, King’s Peak, and Pacific Wildfire.

Fewest Calories


Cheese is packed with nutrients, but some are higher in calories than others. If you are looking for the fewest calories balanced with the most nutrients, we recommend our Comox Brie. It’s a lighter cheese that sacrifices nothing in flavour or richness.

Low Sodium


Reducing your sodium is a great way to promote heart health and keep your blood pressure in check. For those who want to minimize their salt intake, we recommend our fresh Buffalo Mozzarella and our Buffalo Paneer. Try a light caprese salad with fresh tomatoes and basil with a crack of fresh black pepper. Delicious!

Highest Protein


If your New Year’s resolution is to gain more muscle mass, our cheese can help you reach your goals. For work-out heroes or maybe vegetarians who want to add a protein punch to their meals, our Buffalo Paneer is a great choice.


Fresh garden tomatoes and bocconcini

Digestion and Cholesterol

Cow’s milk can be difficult to digest for some, but did you know other cheeses can be perfectly fine? Our Buffalo cheeses are perfect for those who have difficulty digesting cow’s milk and are looking for other dairy options. They also happen to be lower in cholesterol – great!

During our first few weeks of the new year it’s important to make smarter, sustainable choices that we can stick to throughout the year. By choosing cheeses that fit our fitness and health goals, we can finally have our (cheese)cake and eat it too!

The Edible Valley Podcast, Episode 78 “Doug Smith of Natural Pastures Cheese” Comox Valley, B.C.

Doug Smith of Natural Pastures was gracious enough to join us tonight to discuss cheese! As one of the Comox Valley’s cornerstone food producers that help put our humble, beautiful Valley on the map, Doug is one of those key talents that took a small business idea, and turned it into a national brand! He walks us through the process of getting started, growing to fit your market, and establishing yourself amongst your peers. We had a great time with Doug – who is just a wealth of information of Valley history, business planning and above all: Cheese!… listen to The Edible Valley Podcast