Katie Green's Food Blog: Asparagus Soup
I've officially retired from roller coasters. Even though my last concussion occurred almost 7 months ago, one ride on Viper was enough to make me feel like my brain is made of mush. While Disneyland is all about fun, Magic Mountain, where the softball team took a detour to on a recent California trip, is all about fear. Or rather, flying at the speed of it. There are many warnings posted for roller coasters, but concussions are not one of them. However, I'm now wondering if they should be. Not wanting to be a roller coaster wimp, I ventured onto a second, more low-key coaster. (There were a lot of little girls in line, so I figured I was safe.) Not so much. I threw in the towel and called it a day. I may have to live at "It's a Small World" speed for awhile.
Asparagus has come into season, and at 99 cents a pound, I recently stocked up. Considering I'd never cooked or even purchased asparagus before, even 2 pounds seemed pretty daunting. Asparagus is a surprisingly interesting vegetable. Its growth rate can be as much as 10 inches in 24 hours, making harvesting it every day during peak season necessary. Originating in Greece, asparagus produced in the United States is grown mostly in California, Michigan and Washington. Due to the body's digestion of the amino acids it contains, consuming it can cause urine to take on a certain odor. But don't let this put a damper on your asparagus enjoyment, as it is highly revered for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. In addition, it contains a great balance of nutrients with high levels of folic acid (most out of any vegetable) and is full of fiber, potassium, Vitamins B6, A and C, and thiamin. Store it upright in 2 inches of cold water or wrap the ends in a damp towel to maintain freshness as it can spoil quickly. Try to use within 48 hours.
Asparagus is typically roasted or steamed and used as side dish, but it takes center stage in this creamy soup. The ingredients are all blended together at the end, giving it a smooth texture (for all of you wondering what chunks of asparagus in your soup would be like). Be careful to salt to taste as under-salting will result in a very bland flavor.
Adapted from Simply in Season
· 1 pound asparagus, cleaned, with hard ends removed
· 4 cups water or broth (chicken or vegetable), divided
· 1 medium potato (peeled and chopped)
· 1 small onion (chopped)
· 1 stalk celery (chopped)
· 1 cup dry milk powder
· 2 tbsp flour
· Salt and pepper to taste
· ½ cup plain yogurt (optional)
Cut the tip ends off the asparagus and set aside. Blanch the spears in boiling water until slightly tender, about 3-5 minutes. Drain, and reserve some of the water if not using all broth. Chop the spears.
Return spears to the pot and add in 2 cups water/broth, potato, onion and celery. Cook until spears are soft, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and puree in a blender until smooth. (Can attempt to puree with an immersion blender but difficult to do with the asparagus.) Return to the heat.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the remainder 2 cups of broth/water, milk powder, flour and salt and pepper. Add to the soup and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens slightly. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
If using yogurt, drain it through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. To serve, spoon a bit of yogurt into a bowl and pour soup over top of it. Garnish with asparagus tips.
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