For being so environmentally friendly in these parts, Mother Nature is not giving us a break. The first few days of spring gave us spinning tires, two-hour delays, and a whole slew of winter jackets.
But it’s spring, somewhere. And that means that asparagus is in season… Somewhere.
Asparagus is by far my favorite vegetable. Maybe it’s because it’s only around for a few months each year, but we always stock up, buying a few bunches every time we hit the grocery store. And even though we were hit with snow, we’re lucky enough to border a warm, sunny state with plentiful produce.
We never get tired of this green. We bake it. We saute it. We mix it in salads. But with this rain-snow-hail-sleet mix we’ve been getting the past few weeks, I knew these recipes just wouldn’t do the trick. We’ve been craving casserole and things that will cure this bone-chilling cold.
So I made soup.
I found this recipe from Cooking Light: Cooking through the Seasons. This book is really nice to have when you need a recipe in a pinch and want something that will fit what’s in season. This was featured in the Spring section, and it’s a really wonderful soup to have if the weather is not fitting your definition of birds singing-sun shining-70 degree weather. I like it because it’s light and there are few ingredients in it, so you can really get a nice asparagus flavor without the heaviness of cream. We had this on Sunday with rosemary chicken pan fried with garlic and olive oil, and toasted bread with smeared Chèvre (a cheese I’m desperately trying to like). I used it as a dip for both the chicken and the bread, and the three really complimented each other.
Spring Break for Oregonians officially begins at the end of the day, so maybe Mother Nature will get her calendars straight and give us back our rainy, 60 degree days.
Cream of Asparagus Soup
adapted from Cooking Light: Cooking through the Seasons
This soup can be made vegetarian by substituting a good flavored vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth. We used crushed peppercorns in place of the black pepper, but it was a bit strong and some bites got a little chewy. I really liked the flavor though, so if you take this route, go easy on the pepper! Wondra is a really amazing flour that dissolves much easier than regular flour, and reduces the clump factor. If you don’t have it on hand (Scott swears by it when he needs to use flour as a thickener), all-purpose flour will be just fine.
4 cups (1/2-inch) sliced asparagus (1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 tablespoons flour or Wondra
2 cups 1% milk
2 teaspoons butter
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Touch of lemon juice (optional)
Combine asparagus, broth, bay leaf and garlic in saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to boil and let simmer for 10 minutes or until asparagus is super soft. Discard bay leaf and process mixture in a blender until smooth.
In that same saucepan, place flour or Wondra in pan and add milk slowly until flour is dissolved, and mixture thickens slightly. Add blended asparagus mixture, butter, cheese, salt and pepper, and lemon and let simmer for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted and combined. Taste and adjust flavors as needed. I found a bit of mozzarella cheese in the fridge that I used as a garnish on each of our bowls and it really added a nice creaminess without taking away from the flavors of the soup.