Growing up in a small town we had limited grocery options which meant finding fresh asparagus a challenge. The fresh produce selection normally consisted of the basics… potatoes, onions, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and on holidays, green beans! (The one advantage, my parents were dear friends with the owners who would frequently open up the store after hours if butter were needed for that piecrust!)
My Grandparents had huge gardens so having access to an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables was never a problem. However, neither of them planted asparagus, and I never met a canned asparagus I liked! When I hear people swear their disdain for a certain food, I often wonder a) have they ever tried it; or b) how was it prepared? Living with a “left brain” engineer who at times resembles both these remarks, I can attest this is often the case.
Considered by many to be a part of the lily family, fresh asparagus is normally not difficult to find with the peak season in the spring months. Preparing fresh asparagus is actually quite simple. When shopping for asparagus look for “tight” tips, if the top is mushy, avoid it! Since my preferred method for cooking asparagus is roasting, I prefer the thicker stalks, but if all you can find are thinner stalks just reduce the cooking time.
I often roast a double batch of asparagus, then use the leftovers to make a wonderful asparagus soup. Here are both recipes for your enjoyment!
Roasted Fresh Asparagus
1 bunch fresh asparagus
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the stalks well, snap of the tough ends at the bottom where a break naturally occurs. (Literally grab the lower end of the stalk, it will snap off!)
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty foil. Drizzle the olive oil across the bottom of the pan, tossing the stalks of asparagus to coat evenly. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.
Roast in a 400-degree oven for 18-20 minutes, or until tender when poked with the tip of a knife.
Roasted Asparagus Soup
1-1/2-2 pounds fresh asparagus, cooked and cut into pieces (Reserve some tips for garnish if desired.)
1 small sweet onion, sliced thin
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon concentrated chicken bouillon
½ cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt butter with the olive oil. Sauté the onion until tender and translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add asparagus, chicken stock, and concentrated bouillon. Using an immersion blender puree the soup until smooth. You can also transfer to a blender and puree.
Return to the stockpot and add the salt, pepper and cream. Heat through and enjoy!