Asparagus is one of the first vegetables to be ready every spring at the farmers markets around the country and the Bay Area is no exception with bundles appearing at markets in the last couple of weeks. We snapped up two pounds this afternoon at the Heart of the City Market.
Sometimes a quick roasting is all you need to bring out the grassy and fruity flavor of the spears. Yet often the most satisfying method is turning the bright green stalks into an equally green soup. Make sure you’re buying as fresh as possible here. The older and drier the vegetable gets, the more fibrous they become, which will result in a stringy soup if you’re not careful.
We also found some fresh tarragon and felt that it would add a nice fennel flavor to the soup, but basil or even sage would work as well. We also made some quick croutons with some walnut bread scraps we had lying around to make this into lunch. The leftovers will get added to some roast chicken for dinner.
2 pounds fresh asparagus
1 large onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon
1 quart chicken stock
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
¾ cup tarragon
Salt and pepper as needed
Olive oil as needed
1) Trim top off asparagus stems and trim off 1 inch of the woody bottoms. Discard the bottoms. Blanche and shock the tops and set aside. Cut remaining asparagus into ½ inch pieces.
2) In a large pot, heat some olive oil and then add onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and sweat until just translucent. Add cut asparagus pieces and cook over medium high heat for 3 or 4 minutes or until the asparagus begins to turn bright green.
3) Add lemon juice and stock and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until asparagus is fork tender.
4) While soup simmers, make a roux with the flour and olive oil and set aside.
5) Add tarragon to soup and using either a standard blender in batches or a stick blender, puree soup. Return to heat and add roux. Allow to thicken.
6) Taste and adjust seasonings. Garnish with blanched tops and croutons.
This article also appears at http://www.examiner.com/food-in-san-fra