Well, spring is almost upon us. Recently I found this nifty tool for figuring out what’s in season: NRDC’s Eat Local info. According to this site right now my options are limited to spinach and asparagus–then again, I went to the Schlafly farmer’s market yesterday, all excited to pick up the star ingredient for this soup I was planning, and unfortunately I guess it is still a bit too soon to expect much outside of honey, salsa, eggs, and meat (although I did get some great pasta from the Mangia Italiano booth).
Anywhoo, I’d already decided on asparagus soup this week so, undeterred, that’s what I made. I’ve been doing some reading about pureed veggie soups, and one thing that keeps coming up is an insistence that, as a base, butter is going to yield a better flavor overall than olive oil. I usually use olive oil because it’s healthier and I always have plenty on hand, but I thought I’d give it a try. Overall, the soup turned out quite tasty, with the asparagus flavor definitely dominant but still fairly mild. I also used these big, fat artisan salts called Maldon Salt that I picked up at Kitchen Conservatory a while back, and the strong salty flavor gave it a good balance and richness.
Creamy Asparagus Soup
1 1/2 T butter
4 large shallots, coarsely chopped
1 T minced fresh thyme
1 T all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups water
1 1/2 lbs asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
coarse salt (I recommend Maldon sea salt!)
3 T half and half
juice of one lemon
1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the shallots and thyme over medium heat. Cook about 5 minutes. Add the flour, stir and cook for about 1 minute.
2. Add the asparagus, water, and white wine; season generously with salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until asparagus is bright green and just tender, about 3 minutes.
3. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender (or use an immersion blender) until smooth. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste; stir in the half and half and lemon juice and serve.
UPDATE: After bringing this to work for lunch all week, I just wanted to note that throughout the week, the smell of this soup when I took it out of the fridge was pretty… unpleasant. And it got worse as the week went on. Strangely, the soup still tasted great despite the smell. Weird.