Last year about this time when my husband and I were preparing for our trip to Europe, I busied myself with finding recipes that might be typical of the region we would be in so I could try them at home. I was able to share a few of these before we left, but neglected to share the Cream of White Asparagus Soup I made.
It’s Spring, so that means it’s officially time for asparagus even though it seems there is rarely a time that it isn’t available at the grocery store. It’s probably one of our favorite vegetables, so often in the “green & healthy” rotation around here for one meal or another if the price isn’t too crazy. Most often, I saute it simply in olive oil with onion or shallots, a bit of garlic and lemon zest. We bake it, grill it, enjoy it in soup, frittatas, omelettes, salads, and more often without hollandaise than with it.
As much as I pride myself on knowing quite a bit about the vegetables I enjoy, I was surprised to find out even more.
Ten Things: Did you know that:
#1 asparagus is grown in the US states of Washington, Michigan, Illinois, New Jersey and California (which grows 80% of the nearly 200 million lbs. of the US crop). Otherwise, it’s grown extensively in Mexico, Peru, and China.
#2 it can grow as much as 10″ in 24 hours and that size does matter (the thicker the spear, the better the quality). The writer takes no responsibility for any connections the reader might make which are of a sexual nature. *snort*
3# asparagus contains glutathione (GSH) which happens to be the most powerful detoxifier in the body.
#4 the average American eats between 1-2 lbs. of asparagus per year as compared to 18.5 lbs. tomatoes.
#5 ancient Greeks and Romans thought asparagus might relieve a toothache or prevent a bee sting.
#6 asparagus contains rutin, a bioflavonoid vital to capillary strength and increasing circulation in the lower limbs.
#7 asparagus is a super source of folacin which helps not only with the duplication of cells, but growth and repair.
#8 it is a member of the lily family.
#9 after the asparagus harvest, the spears grow into ferns with red berries.
#10 asparagus is better suited to be grown locally more than any other vegetable.
Have you ever tried asparagus raw? It’s my new favorite way to eat it.
With New Year’s Day less than a week away, I’ve found myself not wanting to wait until the traditional January 1st to promise myself that I’ll turn over a new leaf here and there in my life — or perhaps nine. Do I hear 25? After all the cookies and cooking, left-over food, and dishes to be washed, I’m ready for uncomplicated recipes, less sugar, and more vegetables. While I’m on the subject, a personal chef would be great, too, but since that isn’t going to happen any time soon, I’ll settle for a soup that’s healthy and easy to prepare. It’s elegant enough for a formal dinner, but is fabulous heated up for lunch when you want something flavorful and light.
This recipe for asparagus soup is different from a delicious Cream of Asparagus Soup I made recently in that it doesn’t contain milk products to achieve its creaminess. Instead, a potato is cooked and blended with the other ingredients to thicken the soup. Should you want a richer soup, a liberal drizzling of a good quality fruity extra virgin olive oil is enjoyable, but not necessary.
If you are one who appreciates a bit of cheese in soup, crumbled feta, goat’s cheese, or a curl of Parmesan are especially nice swirled into a hot bowl of this.
I’ve had greens on my mind quite a bit lately, and so it was only a matter of time that a vegetable not classified as a “green” but which is very green would surface. Spring has exploded here, and it’s difficult to avoid the beautiful asparagus I’ve been seeing at the grocery store. It’s a bit challenging to pass up a sale, so invariably a bundle is put in the basket even though it wasn’t on my list. Unfortunately, the beautiful pencil thin stalks were pushed back in the vegetable drawer, and somewhat forgotten. For a vegetable that has been referred to as the Food of the Kings, this is a sad state of affairs.
Often, recipes I’ve seen initiate a purchase, but in the case of the forgotten asparagus, it was the sale. Once I’ve made the purchase, then a seed is planted in my brain and I head for the recipes. Of course once I’d located a recipe, I realized I hadn’t seen the asparagus. Had I really purchased it? Not completely sure, I picked up another bunch at the store, and when I went through the vegetable drawer, while putting the groceries away, I found the other bundle still wrapped in plastic and looking as fresh as ever. Good thing we like asparagus because I now had quite a bit of it.
Soup was definitely in order. Beautiful silky, creamy and very green Cream of Asparagus soup — quite different from the Campbell’s my mother used to purchase for me when I was growing up.
If there was ever a salad season, Spring would be it. Baby veggies and greens are everywhere and the simple act of opening a food magazine has me craving salad more than I normally do. I’ve never lived above the 36th parallel north in my life, so I could argue that it’s salad season all year long, but I’ve concluded others may not necessarily feel that way.