I Tried a Spring Soup: Asparagus and Ham
Here in the northern hemisphere, this is the perfect time to relish the taste of asparagus. This is the only time of the year when we know it’s fresh. When asparagus is for sale in the summer, fall or winter, I know it took a lot of gasoline to get it to me. So, I will scoop up all the asparagus I can over the next month or so, and eat to my heart’s content. Right now it’s the food of angels.
A year ago Margaret at Books Please posted a recipe for Asparagus Soup. It sounded so good that I’ve saved it a whole year until our asparagus was fresh from the ground. And now, it’s time to give it a try.
As all cooks do, I played around with the recipe trying to make it my own. For one thing, I wanted the taste of onion in the soup. Leeks might have been best, but I didn’t have any. I also wanted to add a protein to the soup. Margaret had suggested crab, but I had some good ham on hand. I thought that seemed a good idea. Here’s how I made the soup.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 of a finely chopped onion (try leeks)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 pound fresh asparagus (that’s about 10 to 12 stalks)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup of chopped ham
- salt and pepper to taste
- Gently clean the asparagus. Cut off the tips and set aside. Remove the woody ends and put in the compost bin. Cut the remaining stems into small pieces – about 1/2 to 1 inch. Set aside.
- Cut the onion and garlic. Melt the butter and add the onions. Let that simmer for a couple of minutes and then add the garlic and the asparagus stems (not the tips). Let this mixture sizzle for about 4 or 5 minutes, stiring occasionally.
- Add the flour to the mixture and stir to mix it completely. Gradually, add the chicken stock, stirring as you do. Lower the temperature to low. Cover and let it simmer for about 20 or 30 minutes. Check the asparagus with a fork. Make sure it feels soft. Keep cooking until it is.
- Once the vegetable are soft, you could puree the soup in a blender or food processor. We like our soups chunky so I didn’t do that. I did mash it down a little with a potato masher.
- Slowly add the heavy cream, stirring as you go. Add the cut-up ham and the asparagus tips. Let this simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, until the ham is heated and the asparagus is soft.
This was just the right amount for an evening meal for the two of us. It could easily be doubled or tripled. I really liked this experiment, but my husband wasn’t crazy about it. (He said it was “nice.” That’s what he says when he doesn’t really like a dish but he doesn’t want to hurt my feelings.) Of course, I’m a big fan of fresh asparagus. I thought it was light, yet filling.
We ate this soup with crunchy sourdough bread. A nice salad would go good with this, but we were satisfied with just the soup and bread. Vegans/Vegetarians could easily make this soup without the ham or the cream. It’s a winner. Thanks, Margaret, for the inspiration.
This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature at Beth Fish Reads. Click the button below and it will take you there.