Tender asparagus stalks are often an unappreciated vegetable. Expensive and normally reserved for special occasions, or a side dish, the humble asparagus has plenty of reasons why it should become a more commonly used principle ingredient.
Containing no fat or cholesterol it helps to decrease the risk of heart disease and speed up cell regeneration. Asparagus is delicious as well as healthy and something we should all be eating as often as we can.
Best bought in spring, and eaten within two to three days of harvesting, asparagus is best stored when stood upright on a wet towel or in a shallow bowl of water.
Below is Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Creamy Asparagus Soup. This recipe is delicious and easy; a perfect way to begin your culinary relationship with the mighty asparagus.
I attempted this soup with white asparagus rather than green. The key difference between the two is that white asparagus is grown without sunlight making it chlorophyll free. This creates a milder flavour and is a nice addition to this delicate soup.
I cooked my soup without the aid of a barmix so it is more chunky than ideal. I also suggest that attention is made to remove all woody ends of the asparagus. They make an unpleasant surprise as you are eating an otherwise nutty and subtly flavoured soup.
JAMIE OLIVER’S CREAMY ASPARAGUS SOUP
- 800 g asparagus, woody ends removed
- olive oil
- 2 medium white onions, peeled and chopped
- 2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped
- 2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
- 2 litres organic chicken or vegetable stock
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 10 small free-range eggs
- 8 slices ciabatta bread
- 1 knob butter
- extra virgin olive oil
Chop the tips off your asparagus and put these to one side for later. Roughly chop the asparagus stalks. Get a large, deep pan on the heat and add a good lug of olive oil. Gently fry the onions, celery and leeks for around 10 minutes, until soft and sweet, without colouring. Add the chopped asparagus stalks and stock and simmer for 20 minutes with a lid on. Remove from the heat and blitz with a hand-held blender or in a liquidizer. Season the soup bit by bit (this is important) with salt and pepper until just right. Put the soup back on the heat, stir in the asparagus tips, bring back to the boil and simmer for a few more minutes until the tips have softened.
Just before I’m ready to serve the soup, I get a wide casserole-type pan on the heat with 8 to 10cm of boiling water. Using really fresh eggs, I very quickly crack all 10 into the water. Don’t worry about poaching so many at the same time. They don’t have to look perfect. A couple of minutes and they’ll be done, as you want them to be a bit runny. Toast your ciabatta slices. Using a slotted spoon, remove all the poached eggs to a plate and add a knob of butter to them. To serve, divide the soup between eight warmed bowls and place a piece of toast into each. Put a poached egg on top, cut into it to make it runny, season and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.