Do you have certain foods you like to have in the different seasons? One of the springtime treats in my house is asparagus. Last spring I paid a visit to local asparagus grower, Tim Dixon, of North Tryon. You can read the story here. There is something about buying locally-grown foods at the farm gate – the freshness can’t be beat. I recently dropped by Tim’s farm to pick up my taste of Island-grown asparagus.
Asparagus is a very versatile vegetable and one of the first available in spring in our Maritime climate. Asparagus is lovely served with a Hollandaise sauce, in a quiche, wrapped with goat cheese in proscuitto and roasted, or in a myriad of other ways. One of my favorite ways to serve asparagus is as a cream soup. I like to roast the asparagus first as I find the roasting brings out the nutty, earthy flavors in the asparagus. Today, I am sharing my recipe for this soup. While it does take a bit of time to make, the end result is so worth the effort.
Roasted Cream of Asparagus Soup
1 lb asparagus
1 leek, white and light green parts only
1 stalk celery
1 garlic clove
2 cups chicken stock
¼ tsp dried dillweed
¼ tsp dried basil
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup evaporated milk
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Trim asparagus ends. Cut leek in half. Cut celery stalk and potato into 2-4 chunks.
In large bowl, combine asparagus, leek, celery, potato, and garlic clove. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and toss vegetables to ensure they are well coated with the oil.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place oiled vegetables, single layer, on foil-lined cookie sheet. Roast in oven for about 20- 30 minutes or until vegetables are fork-tender. Remove vegetables from oven and cool slightly.
Loosely chop vegetables into chunks and place in bowl of food processor.
Pulse until vegetables are puréed.
Transfer puréed vegetables to large pot.
Add chicken stock, bayleaf, dillweed, and basil.
Whisk flour into milk until smooth. Pour into soup mixture.
Season with salt and pepper.
Mix ingredients well over medium-low heat, stirring regularly to ensure mixture does not scorch.
When hot and thickened to desired consistency, add Parmesan and grated cheddar cheese. Heat just until cheeses are melted.
Serve hot garnished with croutons and 2-3 steamed asparagus tips. Lightly drizzle a good quality olive oil around the garnish.
Yield: 4-6 servings
This soup is lovely served with a good quality rye bread.
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