For my first post at my first actual food blog (after my love of cooking unintentionally turned past blogs into food blogs!) I thought I’d tackle asparagus. It’s in season right now, which means it’s less expensive than it is at other times of the year, and depending on how you prepare it, it can be good… or great!
My family has always steamed asparagus. Whole stalks, salted water. Boring! Tasty, but lacking any kind of interest. This year, for Easter — my first major holiday meal! — I tried roasting it.
Drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with garlic powder, sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and roasted in the oven alongside my boneless lamb leg, it was nutty and tender and amazing!
I learned from various and sundry food programs to bend the stalks gently and allow them to snap where they will, to avoid eating the tough, woody ends. Unfortunately, that leaves you with quite a bit of waste! I saved my ends from the roasted asparagus, as well as from the last time I steamed some up, in a bag in the freezer. This week, I decided to try my hand at cream of asparagus soup. I’d never actually had cream of asparagus soup before, but it was awesome! Rich, without being too heavy (the original recipe I glanced at suggested heavy cream or crème fraîche, but I decided to lighten it up a bit) and very flavorful!
I started by softening a vidalia onion, chopped, in butter. I added the asparagus ends, stirred for about five minutes, and then added chicken stock. I simmered it until the asparagus was tender, and then blended it with an immersion blender. The great thing about this was that the blender I used caught a lot of the woody, stringy bits — but it didn’t get them all. Next time, I will definitely put the puree through a strainer before I add the cream! It was tasty enough that it was worth picking the strings out of my teeth, but I’ll save myself the trouble in the future!
- 1 lb asparagus spears (thick spears are best for roasting)
- 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
- garlic powder (minced garlic would be better, but I got lazy!)
- sea salt
- freshly-ground black pepper
- lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Rinse the asparagus & break the tough ends off. Save them for soup!
- Lay the asparagus spears out in a single layer in a baking dish or a foil-covered roasting pan. Drizzle olive oil over the spears,and sprinkle with garlic powder (or minced garlic,) salt, and pepper. Make sure it’s evenly distributed.
- Place pan in oven and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, depending on how thick your asparagus spears are, until lightly browned and tender when pierced with a fork. Drizzle with a little fresh lemon juice before serving.
CREAM OF ASPARAGUS SOUP (CRÈME D’ASPERGES)
- 1 pound green asparagus ends
- 1 pound asparagus stalks
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup light cream
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- garlic powder to taste
- Cut tips from asparagus stalks. Halve tips lengthwise if thick. Reserve for garnish.
- Cook onion in 3 tablespoons butter in a big soup pot over moderately low heat, stirring until softened. Add asparagus pieces, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add 5 cups broth and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
- While soup simmers, cook reserved asparagus tips in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain.
- Purée soup in batches in a blender (I used an immersion blender; a food processor would work, too!) until smooth, transferring to a bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids), and return to pan. As I said, I’d put the puree through a strainer to remove any woody bits that don’t get caught up in the blender. Stir in cream until you reach your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Bring soup just to a boil and whisk in remaining tablespoon butter.
- Add lemon juice and garnish with asparagus tips.