Fresh asparagus is one of the heralds of spring. Although we can find it almost year round (due to imports), the best quality and quantity of asparagus comes in the spring. If you are an asparagus lover, try this lemony puree of asparagus soup for a spring or Easter dinner. It’s easy to make and can be made ahead to save time. My recipe serves two, but it scales up easily to serve a crowd for dinner.
Being happily spoiled consumers who can pretty much get anything, anytime at the market, we may never understand how labor intensive many of our foods are to grow. That definitely applies to one of my favorite vegetables – asparagus. While available almost year round, it’s best in spring.
Workers often start before dawn, sometimes in the moonlight, bending low and hand-cutting the slender green spears before they are bundled and delivered to market.
A member of the lily family, asparagus spears turn green when the stalks burst through the dirt and encounter the sun. The sun-struck spears produce chlorophyll and turn green. If you dig under the dirt, you’ll find the spears are white.
Buying and Storing Asparagus
When shopping, choose fresh looking spears with tight tops or heads. As a kid, I called them the braids. Many markets will have the bundles sitting in a shallow pan of water to keep them from drying out.
When you get asparagus home, stand the bundle in a tall container with a little water in the bottom to keep the ends moist and cover loosely with plastic wrap until you are ready to use it.
Alternatively, wet a paper towel with water and wrap the ends, then place in a plastic bag. It will last a couple of days stored this way, but the sooner you use it the better.
Ways to Enjoy Asparagus
There are many ways to enjoy asparagus: roasted, chopped and combined with zucchini for a quick vegetable stir fry, folded into an omelet, wrapped with Prosciutto baked for a fantastic appetizer, or as I have done here, pureed into a vibrant green soup.
Asparagus soup can be served either warm on a cool day or chilled on a hot one and makes a lovely seasonal addition to a spring brunch or dinner.
Quick and Easy Soup
To make asparagus soup, sauté a little onion in oil, add chopped roast asparagus, add a little chicken (or vegetable) stock, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Puree in a blender. That’s it.
For creamy soup, try using coconut milk. It’s a great alternative for people with dairy sensitivities or anyone trying to eat a more plant-based diet. My favorite brand is Native Forest.
Half and half is another option for those who enjoy dairy products. Add just enough to get it to the viscosity you want, either thick or fluid. Heat gently and enjoy.
Helpful links on related recipes and tools:
For blenders, I use a Vita-Mix. They are powerful (1380 watt motor) and high capacity (2 quarts). I’ve had mine for many years and use it daily. They are a solid investment in power kitchen tools. No comparison to a standard blender in performance. Order here and get free shipping.
Easy Blender Hollandaise from Simply Recipes
Good ideas from Weeknights Fresh & Fast by Kristine Kidd
Slow Butter Braised Asparagus by Steamy Kitchen
LA Times article on asparagus, grown in California’s San Joaquin delta
All about asparagus, from the Worlds Healthiest Food site