Asparagus Soup

Spring­time brings all sorts of renewal excite­ment. Watch­ing things green up and start to sprout out of the ground does amaz­ing things to my mood. It even makes me appre­ci­ate the win­ter months all the more for know­ing that the cold and dead means antic­i­pat­ing the warm and com­ing to life. I have vivid mem­o­ries of grandma send­ing the grand kids down to the ditch banks to search for the first signs of aspara­gus. It was like a trea­sure hunt! And noth­ing is quite like those slen­der, ten­der, beau­ti­fully green, tinged with pur­ple spears. They just taste like spring!

Asparagus

Aspara­gus can be pre­pared many ways. My favorite is a sim­ple sauté with a tiny bit of but­ter, salt and pep­per, and a squeeze of lemon. Gar­nish with parme­san and noth­ing is more sim­ply delicious!

Roast­ing will bring out the nutty taste and is beau­ti­ful as well. Toss the aspara­gus with a lit­tle olive oil, sprin­kle with kosher salt and cracked black pep­per, and roast in a hot oven for 8–10 min­utes. The most impor­tant thing to con­sider when cook­ing aspara­gus is to keep it slightly crisp. Let it retain a lit­tle of what makes it such a great spring veg­etable: its tex­ture. Noth­ing is less appeal­ing than mushy aspara­gus. It’s sad, really. We only get to enjoy really good aspara­gus for a short time each year. Don’t mush it up!

Chef made a deli­cious pan­zanella once that had grilled aspara­gus along­side a host of other veg­eta­bles, but it was the aspara­gus that stood out. So deli­cious! Just oil your spears a bit before grilling and watch care­fully. They cook quite quickly. Blanch, saute, boil, grill, roast, steam or stir-fry aspara­gus. All of these meth­ods are great as long as you don’t over cook.

In choos­ing aspara­gus, the more slen­der, the more ten­der is the gen­eral rule. A 1/2 inch in diam­e­ter should be your limit. Any­thing more and you get into tough ter­ri­tory. The tips will still be good, but the fur­ther down the spear you go, the wood­ier the product.

For prep, most peo­ple will hold the aspara­gus spear at each end and care­fully bend the spear. Where it snaps is a pretty good place to stop, but I find if the aspara­gus isn’t too thick, you can get even a lit­tle bit more yield by peel­ing off the outer layer. When aspara­gus grows past the diam­e­ter of a pen­cil, I’m told it is actu­ally more nutri­tious, but it is harder to make deli­cious, as the spears get a lit­tle woody the older they grow.The inside is still gen­er­ally ten­der. Espe­cially if you are using for a soup and are going to be puree­ing. Try the peel­ing trick, no rea­son to let those cou­ple of inches go to waste!

Aspara­gus can be a great appe­tizer when sautéed or roasted as a whole spear and wrapped in a thin slice of roast beef. Dip in a creamy, lemon-chervil aioli, or driz­zle with a bal­samic reduction.

Aspara­gus pairs well with lightly fla­vored nuts, and sea­soned, browned bread­crumbs. Also gar­lic and mush­rooms. Sev­eral cheeses will also go nicely: pecorino, parme­san, and mild goat cheeses.

Aspara­gus Soup

Asparagus Soup

Ingre­di­ents

  • 2 pounds asparagus–trim top 1 1/2 inch off, peel thick bot­toms, cut into 1″ pieces, reserve tips for roasting
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped leek–rinse and drain well if leeks are dirty
  • 1/2 tsp thyme. dried or (1 tsp fresh)
  • 4 Table­spoons butter
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup veg­etable stock
  • juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • parme­san cheese for shav­ing over the top

Instruc­tions

  1. Toss the aspara­gus tips in a lit­tle olive oil and sea­son with a pinch of salt and pep­per and roast for 8–10 min­utes in the oven at 400 degrees F. Set aside for garnish.
  2. Sauté the chopped onion and leek in but­ter for 5 min­utes with a pinch salt & pepper.
  3. Add aspara­gus spears (minus the tips), and cover and cook 8–10 minutes–not look­ing to brown, just sauté real nice.
  4. Add 3 cups whole milk and sim­mer til tender.
  5. Add the veg­etable stock, lime juice, kosher salt, sour cream and cayenne and heat to just boil­ing. Don’t over-boil or the sour cream will break.
  6. Puree with a stick blender, or a blender if you don’t have a stick blender. Just be very care­ful of blend­ing hot liquid.
  7. Serve with the roasted aspara­gus tips and a sprin­kling of shaved parme­san cheese.
http://secretlifeofachefswife.com/anthologie/asparagus-soup

 

 

 

 

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