By Allison Davis
It’s official, it’s spring! Thyme to polish up with a fresh pedi, pack away all your dark heavy sweaters, & pull out some spring swag! It’s also the perfect time to get some well needed Vitamin D and plant a garden. (Yeah, I said it.) Whether you are apartment living, have a small yard, or have plenty of space to spread out, you can grow a garden and enjoy some fresh produce at home! If that’s just not for you, be sure to hit up the farmer’s markets and enjoy some Kentucky Proud produce.
One of my favorite early spring crops in the bluegrass is asparagus. Kentucky asparagus is available from mid to late April until the end of June. It is a perennial plant and can come back in your garden for up to 15 years if cared for properly. (Talk about getting your $$ worth.)
When buying asparagus, look for stalks that are straight and firm. Fatter stalks are generally meatier and will be more tender after cooking. Avoid wilted, flat or angular stems. Asparagus is low in calories and carbohydrates, and compared to other vegetables, relatively rich in protein. One cup of asparagus supplies only 24 calories, almost half of which are derived from protein.
This recipe for asparagus soup is full of flavor & only has 6 ingredients, but don’t skip on the garnishes. They make this dish superb. White truffle oil is a wonderful complement to this soup, but if you happen to get your hands on some fresh morel mushrooms this spring sauté them in butter and use as a gorgeous garnish! The parmesan crisp adds just the right amount of salt to balance with the grassy flavor of asparagus. This dish is also gluten free with rice being used as the primary thickener. As always, enjoy!
Potage Crème d’Asperges (Cream of Asparagus Soup)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, minced
a scant cup of asparagus, roughly chopped (scant means just shy of or not quite a full cup)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup cooked short grain rice
salt and pepper to taste
white truffle oil (optional)
Add the butter to medium-sized saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they are soft and just starting to brown around the edges. Add the asparagus, milk, chicken stock and rice. Simmer over medium low heat for 10 minutes or until the asparagus and rice are soft.
Using an immersion (stick or wand) blender, puree the soup until a consistent smooth texture. Garnish with white truffle oil and parmesan crisp. Micro greens would make a nice top, crème fraiche, lemon zest, the possibilities are endless!
1/2 cup freshly grated* Parmesan cheese
*You must use freshly grated cheese, some pre-shredded Parmesan cheese have anti-caking agents in them which will prevent the cheese from melting properly and will not work for this application.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Pour a heaping tablespoon of Parmesan onto a silicone or parchment lined baking sheet and lightly pat down (a silicone baking sheet is highly recommended). Repeat with the remaining cheese, spacing the spoonfuls about 1/2 inch apart.
3. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Cool.
Makes 4-6 servings.