Monday, March 05, 2007
Asparagus, Three Ways
While J's aunt just spent 4 days without power, buried in an Iowa snowstorm, spring has just barely sprung here in sunny SoCal. Two signs: I was able to wear my shorts home from the gym tonight without a chill, and the farmers' markets have begun bursting with all sorts of asparagus, fat, thin and everything in between.
This asparagus-leek soup, which I made and ate plain last Tuesday, had a long life. On Saturday it was mixed with some chicken stock and used in a risotto, on Sunday, the leftover risotto became fried risotto cakes. Using the soup in the risotto, in place of the plain stock, was an experiment with decent results. Due to the beans I'd used in the soup, the risotto was extra starchy and started to thicken before the rice was completely done. A vigorous stir and some extra time on the burner ensured it wasn't goopy, but it was thick, all the better for the next day's fried risotto patties. Just mix your leftover risotto with an egg or two, some breadcrumbs, shape into patties and fry in olive oil until crisp. Fellow bloggers Stephen Cooks and Morels&Musings have their own drool-worthy risotto cake recipes as well.
adapted from The Herbal Kitchen by Jerry Traunfeld
1 large leek, thinly sliced, white and light green parts only
2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 c. chicken or veggie broth
3-4 sprigs thyme, tied together with twine
2 bunches thin stalked asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2-3/4 cup cannelini beans, canned (I had leftovers that had been sauteed with chard and onions--I threw the whole lot in)
salt and pepper
splash or two of cream, optional
Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring from time to time, until the soften but don't color. Add the broth. Add the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove thyme leaves.
Stir the asparagus into the soup and cook at a low boil for 4-5 minutes. The asparagus should be tender but bright green. Add the beans and stir.
Puree the hot soup in two batches in a blender until very smooth. Be careful not to overfill the blender. Return the soup to the pan and reheat it. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Mix in the cream if you wish.
Asparagus photo by Sarah Baker