Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Asparagus Soup

Living in Florida, the signs of spring are rather elusive. I lived in Midwestern US for eight years, and I can still remember the changing seasons vividly. My favorite, of course, was springtime when the buds of deciduous trees all blossomed at once and the spring flowering bulbs peeked out from lingering snow. It was so much fun when Q and I rode our pink Huffy bikes around town in search of abandoned flowers to adopt. The daffodils and iris never failed to emerge from the ground during this time, no matter how cold or windy the weather was. They grew and blossomed whether or not there was an owner to take care of them. We dug up many bulbs from abandoned plots and fields and planted them in our own flower gardens.

I only realized that we are entering spring when I saw an abundance of beautiful asparagus and strawberries at the market. I always try to eat seasonal fruits and vegies because not only are they in top shape, but the price is ridiculously cheap. I usually throw them on the grill with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper, but I thought I'd try something new last night. This soup was inspired by Yongfook.

Asparagus Soup
(Yields 4 Appetizer Portions)

  • 1 bunch asparagus spears, woody ends trimmed
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken/vegetable stock
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked white pepper to taste

Slice asparagus thinly and reserve several tips for garnishing.

Bring a pot of salted water (about 5 cups) to a boil and throw in asparagus. Cook for about 4 minutes or until asparagus is bright green and just cooked through. Drain asparagus and dunk into ice water bath, then drain again. Save the water that the asparagus was cooking in!

Heat the olive oil and butter in another pot and sauté onion until fragrant. Add the chicken stock and a couple cups of the asparagus water and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and add asparagus to the pot. Use a hand blender to puree the soup. You can gradually add more asparagus water to adjust the consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

For garnishing, halve the asparagus tips lengthwise and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill and top the soup for a nice crunchy texture and smoky flavor. To serve it hot, bring soup to a simmer right before serving and ladle into a bowl. I ate it hot, but I think it would taste just as good chilled.