We have done a few soups in our Back to Basics range, I am pretty sure you would be getting the hang of the way I do them by now. I am a bit sad today, my Mum is not well, and any of you who follow this blog would know I am a bit fond of her, so I would like to take her some soup, this soup in fact, which is one of her favourites, but we are separated by a hard border that cannot be crossed because of Covid19, so the best I can do is write down the recipe for her so she can make it herself when she is better. Get well soon Mum.
So, a Cream of Asparagus Soup. I love asparagus, and if you are one of those people, like me, who likes to eat things when they are in season, this is the time to make this soup. I did actually grow my own asparagus for a couple of years, but we have had water shortages now for so long that it said, nope, hate it here, and the crowns died, but nevermind, there are lots of growers in the Adelaide Hills and this is a batch of local asparagus I picked up yesterday, three bunches for 99c each!
As always with our soups, we are looking for a range of flavours, asparagus on its own is a bit bland, so we are going to add a few complementary ingredients, taking care to not overshadow the star of the soup. So we add a little potato for mouthfeel, a stick of celery for natural sodium and freshness, some lemon thyme because it just loves asparagus and some garlic and two types of onion, cooked gently to preserve mildness of flavour. Ready? Here we go then.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 leek, halved, washed and sliced
1/2 a small brown onion, chopped
1 stick celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme, chopped
3 bunches of asparagus, trimmed and cut into chunks
1 1/2 litres of water or stock
2 tablespoons coconut cream
Okay, first up I want to have a chat about leeks, leeks are a wonderful vegetable, so nutritious, so delicious and they impart a melting quality to a dish similar to that of a meat fat, so they add a luxurious feel to any dish. BUT leeks are dirty things. I have here a perfectly clean looking leek, let’s trim the top parts of the green leaves and then split it down the middle and have a look -
Yuk! Filthy! Do we want that grit in our soup? No, we most certainly do not, so we need to give them a wash, and make sure you separate the layers and wash in between, the dirt is mounded up on a leek as it grows so that it gives that long, blanched root, and that is wonderful, but we do not want to eat it, so take a little time to wash it properly, then slice.
That’s better. Heat your oil in a mid sized pot and tumble in the leek, the celery and the onion, cook gently, a little colour is okay, but we don’t want any black bits making our soup bitter, so take your time, let it chat away to itself for about five minutes until it looks like this -
Good, now stir in your lemon thyme and garlic and cook for another two minutes. While that is cooking let’s turn our attention to this asparagus. Look here at this asparagus spear -
The bottom bit, at the stem end, is going to be really woody, in food terms that means it is going to be high in cellulose, which we humans lack the enzyme to digest, we could cook it into submission, but it is going to ruin the delicate nature of our soup, we could peel it, some people do, me, I am going to snap the asparagus at the point where it becomes woody and feed the bottom bits to my chickens so they can make peculiarly flavoured eggs.
Hold the asparagus between pinchy fingers at the very bottom and with the other hand about half way up and bend, it will snap at the point it begins to get woody, usually about 1/3 of the way up, here, let‘s look at a few.
Okay then, do that with all three bunches of asparagus, cut into chunks and add with the potato and water or stock to your pot, turn the heat up to bring it to a boil and then down to a simmer, simmer for about half an hour. Purée with a stick blender, stir in your coconut cream, or regular cream if you prefer, season to taste, serve with plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Gorgeous, a delicate, seasonal soup that tastes great and is great for you. Enjoy.