Thursday 11 April 2013

Asparagus Soup with White Beans

Back from Toronto, all the plants are fine!  I moved everything back into their place in the solarium for now.  But yikes, this weather forecast improves neither my mood nor my plans to get the plant operation moved to the greenhouse anytime soon ... I mean, come on, ice pellets?  Fifteen cm of snow?!?  Get on with spring already!

The hungarian hot wax pepper and San Marzano tomato plants that I left in the greenhouse for the last few days managed to survive through the recent cool temperatures.  But the containers I put them in are too big for me to bother moving inside ... so I have no choice but to chance again leaving them out there for what I hope to be the last gasp of winter.

But on to better things.  After some good feasting out on Indian and Japanese food during my trip to Toronto, I'm back to homecooking with more asparagus.  Based on the weather forecast above, I suspect it will be a while before I get local asparagus, so I'm just taking advantage of whatever I find in the store.

1 Tbsp each butter and olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 cup white beans
2 cups asparagus, chopped
2 cups veg stock
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2/3 cup evaporated milk

The soup is going to be pureed and strained, so you can be pretty rough on the chopping.  Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium pot, add onion and a pinch of salt.  Saute about 10 minutes until softened.  In the meantime, snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and chop - keep some good size pieces of the tips if you want for garnish. 

Add garlic, beans, asparagus and stock.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cook until beans and asparagus are tender - about 10 more minutes.  Add the juice of 1/2 a lemon.  I add the lemon at this point so I can squeeze in the juice without worrying about the seeds since it is going to be strained.  If you want an even fresher taste, wait until just before serving to add the lemon juice. This is also a good time to pull out a few asparagus tips for garnish.

Puree the soup, then strain into a fresh pot.  Be patient!  Assuming you are using an appropriately fine sieve, this will take a while.  Use the back side of a wooden spoon to push it through; you want to end up mainly with dry, fibrous material in the sieve, and your silky soup in the new pot!

Add the evaporated milk and S&P to taste.  Reheat without bringing to a boil.  Serve and garnish with asparagus tips, chives, yogurt or sour cream.