I cannot decide which season to deal with. Do I hang on to winter? (not really interested in that) Or do I spring forward and go roll around in the lawn? (maybe a tad bit too early for that endeavor). Since I can’t make up my mind, and since it has been raining cats and dogs for days on end, I have settled on a little bit of both. The soup part is because nothing tastes better on a dreary day, and the asparagus part because it is one of those vegetables that hollers SPRING at the top of its lungs. Besides, it’s pretty easy to make so you have plenty of left over time to curl up by the fire, pour a few glasses of wine, and just go with it.
Since the main character in this story is the asparagus, we shall start there. Each spear needs to be cut in four ways: first, just take the tiniest bit of asparagus rump off – this is the dry, tough end. Second, measure up about 2 inches from the new rump and cut at that point. These are tough ends that you will use in the stock in you make your own. Thirdly, not to be morbid, but we cut off their heads. Set aside for later. And finally, we take what’s left and cut into about 2 inch chunks.
That took about 20 seconds so we are off to a fine start. The next step involves making an asparagus vegetable stock. If you would prefer to skip this step, I will not judge you. Just sneak into your pantry and get a couple of cans of chicken or vegetable stock. I will look away while this is happening. If you want to make your own, however, it’s pretty easy. In a Dutch oven or stock pot, throw in the new asparagus rumps, some sliced leeks or green onion ends or both, celery stalks, a couple of smashed cloves of garlic, salt and pink or black peppercorns. I used pink because I think they look cooler. This gets simmered for about half an hour or until the vegetables have given up the ghost and are softened. Strain and you have broth.
When your stock is done, about 2 cups go into the Dutch oven and all of your middle asparagus pieces go in all at once. Crank up the heat and let them low boil in that liquid until just softened. If they go too far they lose that pretty green and end up looking like that carpet we used to have in our living room when that awful olive color was all the rage. I think that was in the 70’s. We do not want to revisit that in our soup thank you very much. When the asparagus is done, we toss in a couple of cups of thawed green peas for color, to help thicken this creation, and for another spring flavor boost. Blend this all up and you have soup!
Plain green soup is not where we want to be, so jazzing up with garnishes is where we will travel next. Two are on the agenda today: roasted radishes and roasted asparagus, ahem…heads. Starting with the radishes, just wash, cut in half, drizzle with oil and salt, and roast until soft which will be about half an hour. PS: you will want to make extra because they are delicious roasted. If you are like me, you will end up eating all of them as soon as they come out of the oven, and then have to start all over again. Here they are before….
And after. They are beautiful and taste even better than they look. I have the same reaction to these that I do to popcorn. They all disappear so fast I’m not sure what happened.
Asparagus heads are next. Same routine. Before…
And after. One quick note: These guys roast very quickly, so start looking at them at about the 10 minute mark to make sure they don’t over do it in there.
Garnish done. Soup done. Let’s build it. Then eat it. Set the table.. Or on the other hand, you could just eat it straight out of the pot. I have done this, but these camellias were blooming in our yard so just had to use them. Another sure sign spring is near!
First an asparagus pinwheel right in the center.
We need some color, so radishes to the rescue.
And just for the fun of it, there was some sour cream lying around in the refrigerator, so I decided to dollop some on and run a skewer through to make a shape that cannot be identified.
If you like a creamier soup, stir in some cream, half and half, or milk. I also like this with a big old handful of grated cheese either stirred in or sprinkled on top, and let’s not forget a nice big pat of butter.
Hope you enjoy. Happy almost spring!! xoxo
- 4 bunches asparagus
- 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
- 1 bunch radishes, washed and halved
- 2-4 cups vegetable broth. Store bought is fine, but if you’d like to make your own, the recipe is below.
- To make the broth: In a large Dutch oven, combine asparagus ends, 2 cloves mashed garlic, 1 large leek that has been washed and slivered, 4-5 celery stalks (use the inner stalks with leaves on), 1-2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon red or black peppercorns. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cooking until vegetables or soft, about 30 minutes. Drain off vegetables and reserve stock until needed.
- To prepare the asparagus:
- Cut off about ¼ inch off the bottom of each stalk and discard. Soak the asparagus spears in cold water and swirl them around to make sure any sand or dirt is removed. Cut the bottom 2 inches off of each stock – these pieces are the ‘asparagus ends’ that go into your stock mixture.
- Cut the tip off of each stalk. Set aside.
- Cut the remaining stalk pieces into thirds and set aside.
- To roast the radishes: Place the washed and halved radishes on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in a 350-degree oven until tender – about 30 minutes. Set aside.
- To roast asparagus tips: Place the asparagus tips on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt. Roast in a 350-degree oven until tender – about 10 minutes. Set aside.
- To make the soup:
- Pour 2 cups of reserved broth into a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, and then add the asparagus pieces all at once. Cover the pot and let boil until asparagus is just tender. You’ll want to check it at about 5 minutes, then every couple of minutes until done. When asparagus is tender, stir in the peas. Blend in very small batches in a blender until smooth. Return to Dutch oven, check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Heat until warmed through, and serve with roasted radish and asparagus garnish.