One of the most enchanting and delicious symbols of spring!
“Respecting the dignity of a spectacular food means enjoying it at its best. Europeans celebrate the short season of abundant asparagus as a form of holiday. In the Netherlands, the first cutting coincides with Father’s Day, on which restaurants may feature all-asparagus menus and hand out neckties decorated with asparagus spears.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver
Asparagus has been a enchanted symbol of love and fertility as well as a delicious symbol of spring for many centuries! The Greeks called it asparagos , which literally means, “to spring up.” If you are the happy caretaker of a bed of asparagus, you know that this is true. That being said, however you pronounce or spell it, it makes my heart sing and my tastebuds quiver!
There is nothing as wonderful as asparagus locally harvested and steamed just minutes from the field. In its freshest state, it needs little adornment , the ends peeled, the stalks boiled for a few minutes in some lightly salted water and dressed with just a bit of salt and butter. I love to serve it to my guests prepared just this way, several spears of the fresh asparagus plated with individual dishes of fresh bearnaise or lightly salted, melted butter for dipping. Asparagus SHOULD be eaten with the fingers, that just deepens the enjoyment of it, at least for me!
“(on asparagus) Europeans of the Renaissance swore by it as an aphrodisiac, and the church banned it from nunneries.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver
I’ve discovered that if I wrap and tie small bundles of lightly steamed asparagus (3 or 4 spears, still very green) with prosciutto and a sprig of rosemary, spray them with a bit of avocado oil and air fry them at 380 for just a couple of minutes, that I have a side dish that is really delicious and remarkable in its simplicity.
Another way that I love to serve it is freshly steamed, lightly salted and then topped with minced hard boiled egg and a dollop of fresh chive and dijon mustard mayonnaise. The first time that I ever ate it this way was in Paris and I’ve never forgotten it. It was such a simple dish, but the combination of flavors was absolutely elegant and sublime.
Like Ottolenghi says…just a few simple, elegant ingredients.
There are truly so many wonderful ways to serve fresh asparagus, but that being said, asparagus soup is really a wonderful springtime tonic and treat , and it's very easy to make!
Just melt some butter (about 4 tablespoons) in the bottom of a soup pot, and add about two teaspoons of garlic infused olive oil. When the butter is foamy add two bunches of fresh asparagus that you have cut into bite sized pieces, along with 3 large minced shallots! I let it saute for about 5 minutes until tender and then add six cups of organic chicken broth. Let it simmer for about 15 more minutes, and then take an immersion blender and puree the soup in the cooking pot until smooth. Then I add about 1 and a 1/2 half cups of organic half and half or coconut milk and season it with a bit of salt and pepper !
That is the basic recipe, and once you've made it, you have a delicious soup that you can embellish in so many different ways.
I love to add curry powder to asparagus soup, or a simple roasted cumin oil which I make by toasting cumin seeds in a pan and then infusing them into avocado oil overnight. Another variation I love uses lightly sauteed lump crabmeat, placed with fresh chives in the bottom of each individual bowl with the soup poured over it. Another wonderful trick is to add a flourish of fresh cream that you've mixed a little bit of limoncello (that fabulous Italian lemon cordial) at the end. Just pour a bit of it into the soup and swirl a fork through it for a lovely marbled effect. My husband loves it when I sprinkle some fresh parmesan cheese over the top of the soup and a few drops of white truffle oil!
Whatever you add, it should be flavorful enough to enhance the asparagus, but not so strong that it overpowers it. It's a fine line, but have fun, and let me know what you come up with!
I love to serve this with a simple chilled riesling, a very ripe wedge of Camembert with some fresh strawberries , a white bean salad, good sausage and chewy bread. If the soup is served cold, this IS the ultimate picnic lunch!
I hope that you enjoy this wonderful video I found about foraging for wild asparagus! It’s really such a treat!
Thymeless Quotes: “Good asparagus needs minimal treatment and is best eaten with few other ingredients.” Yotam Ottolenghi
Do you love fresh asparagus? Favorite ways of cooking and serving it? I’d love to know about them. By expressing your ideas in the comments you make my writing better while giving other readers an outside perspective on the relevance and value of this post.
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When I was a child growing up on a farm, asparagus grew in the ditch along the road. It was so good!!!