Imported asparagus are available all year round, but there’s nothing to beat those locally grown in its short spring season: in Ireland, traditionally beginning on April 23 and ending on Midsummer Day. Although its delicate flavor and seasonality makes it highly desirable in the kitchen, asparagus is much more than just a pretty vegetable; it’s long been recognized as a good source of dietary fiber and is high in antioxidants. Green asparagus is widely grown and eaten, while white asparagus (regular asparagus just planted under piles of soil that prevent the spears from developing chlorophyll, which gives the vegetable its green color) is also very popular in northern Europe, where “asparagus menus” are a specialty in restaurants in asparagus-growing areas. Asparagus is delicious steamed, grilled or baked, and as a starter or a side dish, it’s often served with hollandaise, vinaigrette, or olive oil. It’s also a versatile ingredient in soups, omelets, and tarts. Go grab a bunch now!
CREAM OF ASPARAGUS SOUP
SERVES 4 TO 6
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
4 ounces unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or broth
3 cups milk, warmed
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/3 cup heavy cream
Croutons, for garnish (optional)
1. To trim asparagus, hold asparagus about halfway down stalk and bend stalk until the tender stalk separates from the toucher base.
2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in asparagus tips, onion, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until onions are soft but not browned; sprinkle with flour. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring once or twice, for 6 to 8 minutes.
3, Slowly stir in stock or broth; cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until soup thickens. Let cool for about 5 minutes; stir in milk.
4. With an immersion blender, purée soup until smooth. (Alternately, working in batches, transfer soup to a blender or food processor and process until smooth; return to pan). Stir in pepper, dill, and cream; gently reheat. Sprinkle with croutons, if desired.