Do you get aggressively excited about spring produce? I really love seeing all the bright colors and enjoy walking around the outdoor market in more friendly temperatures, but to be honest I also mourn a little because I know that the hearty dishes I so love to make and eat must be shelved for a few months. I embrace shopping seasonally and locally so this past week I picked up what everyone else was picking up.
To be fair we are almost out of fennel season so this recipe is a little late in making its table debut. Nonetheless it’s still appropriate and delicious! Last night I made a caramelized fennel risotto that nearly knocked my socks off. I’m committed to a new expedited method of cooking risotto and this particular recipe throws that out the window in that one must cook the shallots and fennel for 30-40 minutes to reach optimal caramelization. But, that’s really the best way to enjoy fennel (personally) because the long cooking time takes away the sharp anise flavor and leaves you with a light sweetness and unbelievable added creaminess. In short, it’s not a quick dinner or one to make at the last minute, but if you’re looking to fill the Sunday dinner slot, this is your guy.
I omitted the peas because I really don’t like them, but it certainly makes the dish more spring-y. Also, I stirred in hunks of rotisserie chicken to add protein. This is an inexpensive and easy way to add more oomph to a dish, not to mention great depth of flavor. I also do this with soups and salads. Just add in the chicken when you add in the last cup of stock so it heats throughout. I had this with a white Bordeaux and it was magnifique.
And what can we say for asparagus? Only that I love it. Oh my, yes I do. I love it so, so much and eat it every week while it’s in season. One thing I like so much about the grocery stores and markets here is that, for the most part, they really stick to what’s in season. Sure, you can buy watery tomatoes year-round, but asparagus only comes in the spring and when it does it’s glorious. Ditto pumpkins and squash, peaches, berries, bok choy, blood oranges and other fun favorites. It’s a good rule of thumb to stick with: if it’s not in season, it’s probably not going to be that good. (And who really, really needs a pound of asparagus that traveled 6,300 miles? I’m looking at you, Peru…)
This week the temperatures dropped just a wee bit and it rained enough for me to want soup again so spargel creme soup it was! I loosely followed this recipe, but will go ahead and rewrite it below because I did make a few modifications. Bon appetit!
Asparagus Cream Soup
Time: 50 minutes
- 1 3/4-2 pounds asparagus, woody ends removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
- 2 sticks celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced into half moons
- 6 cups chicken stock (you can use up to 8 cups if you want it a bit thinner)
- 1 russet baking potato, diced*
- 1/3-1/2 cup heavy cream
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- parsley, to garnish
- lemon, to garnish (optional)
- Trim tips off asparagus and set them aside for later.
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onions, celery and leeks until they are soft and tender, but not colored, about 10 minutes.
- Add the chopped asparagus stalks, potato and stock and simmer for 20 minutes with a lid on.
- Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender or carefully transfer to blender in small batches and puree. Note: either way, let the soup sit for five minutes before blending to allow it to cool. If using a blender, keep one corner of the lid up to release heat and prevent an explosion. Also, use a dish towel to cover the top.
- Add cream and stir to incorporate. Adjust level of cream to desired thickness.
- Add salt and pepper to season to your liking. I’m not crazy about a lot of salt, but pepper is really nice here to balance the sweetness of the leeks and cooked veggies.
- Add asparagus tips, bring back to a boil, then lower to a simmer until the tips have softened.
- Serve with chopped parsley and a light drizzle of lemon if you like.
* I only had a leftover potato that had already been baked and it worked perfectly. I added it in just before I blended the soup together so it would warm through and it worked as an excellent thickening agent.
We ate this with grilled cheese sandwiches, but Jamie Oliver recommends buttered toast and poached eggs. I tried poaching an egg the other day and the result was disgusting. I make a mean soft-boiled egg, however, and will enjoy that with my leftover soup for lunch today.
UPDATE: The poached/soft-boiled egg is a go! Adds incredible richness.
Do you like asparagus? What’s your favorite way to eat it? Besides soup I also love it grilled with olive oil, salt and pepper (keep it simple!). This recipe looks super simple and delightful. MethinksI know what we’ll be having next week…