Fresh Asparagus...I can never get enough of it! Usually I'm going on and on about the virtues of eating foods in their season, but I WILL eat asparagus at any time! Fortunately for an addict like me, it's springtime always somewhere in the world, and fresh asparagus can be found almost year round.
However....that being said there is nothing as wonderful as asparagus locally harvested and steamed minutes from the field.In it's freshest state, it needs little adornment , the ends peeled, the stalks boiled for a few minutes a some lightly salted water and dressed with just a bit of salt and butter. I love to serve it to my guests prepared just this way, several spears of the fresh asparagus plated with individual dishes of fresh hollandaise for dipping. Asparagus SHOULD be eaten with the fingers, that just deepens the enjoyment of it!
Fresh asparagus soup is really a wonderful treat , and it's very easy to make!
Just melt some excellent butter (about 4 tablespoons) in the bottom of a soup pot, and add some garlic oil. When the butter is foamy add two bunches of fresh asparagus that you have cut into bite sized pieces, along with 1 large bunch of chopped wild ramps (or scallions if the ramps are not in season!). I let them saute for about ten minutes and then add six cups of good chicken broth. Let the whole thing simmer for about 1/2 an hour, and then take an immersion blender and puree the soup in the cooking pot until smooth. Then I add about 1 and a half cups of organic half and half and season with a bit of salt and pepper!
That is the basic recipe, and once you've made it, you have a delicious soup that you can embellish in many different ways.
I love to add curry powder to Asapragus soup, or a simple roasted cumin oil. Another variation is to put some lightly sauteed lump crabmeat with fresh chives in the bottom of each individual bowl and pour the soup over it. Another wonderful trick is is to add a flourish of fresh cream that you've mixed a little bit of limoncello (that fabulous Italian lemon cordial) at the end. Just pour a bit of it into the soup and swirl a fork through it for a lovely marbled effect. My husband, the truffle addict loves it when I sprinkle some fresh parmesan cheese over the top of the soup and a few drops of white truffle oil!
Whatever you add to it should be flavorful enough to enhance the asparagus, but not so strong that it overpowers it. It's a fine line , but have fun , and let me know what you come up with!
I serve this with a simple chilled riesling,a very ripe wedge of brie, a white bean salad , some good sausage and chewy bread. If the soup is cold, this IS the ultimate picnic lunch!
Photograph of wild asparagus growing in Idaho from www.showshown.com