PUBLISHED APRIL 2009
In stocking the store for the spring and summer season, I realized I didn’t have any copies of The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. This is one of my favorite cookbooks and, over the years, I have repeatedly used it because the recipes are so good! The Silver Palate cookbooks were the forerunners to Ina Garten and The Barefoot Contessa book series. If you don’t have any of their books, I would highly recommend getting one, two or all three for your cookbook library. (The Silver Palate Cookbook, and The Silver Palate New Basics Cookbook are the other two.)
Asparagus is one of the first hopeful signs of spring in our gardens. It offers us one of our first opportunities to cook with a local, seasonal ingredient. Here’s a great recipe for fresh asparagus soup, that doesn’t use cream, so it’s good for you, too! Perfect for a cool, but still crisp, early spring day.
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped
- 4 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1-1/2 quarts Chicken Stock (I use any one of several brands of Free Range/Organic Chicken stock. Or, you can make your own.)
- 3 pounds asparagus
- 1 bunch fresh parsley, stems removed, chopped (1 cup)
- 2 medium sized carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 8 fresh large basil leaves
- 1 TBL dried tarragon
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 cup sour cream or crème fresh
- 1 ripe, large tomato, seeded and cut into small diced pieces, for garnish. (you can also use asparagus tips for garnish if tomatoes aren’t yet in season.)
1. Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook uncovered until wilted, about 25 minutes.
2. Add the stock and heat to boiling.
3. Trim the woody ends from the asparagus and cut the stalks into 1-inch pieces. Reserve the tips. Add the asparagus pieces, parsley, carrots, basil, tarragon, salt, pepper and cayenne to the stock. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered until the vegetables are tender, about 50 minutes.
4. Remove the soup from heat and let cool. Process in batches in a blender or a food processor fitted with a steel blade until smooth. (Or use a hand “immersion” blender.) Strain the soup through a medium size sieve to remove woody fibers.
5. Return the strained soup to the pan, add the asparagus tips, and simmer over medium heat until the tips are tender, about 10 minutes.
6. Ladle the soup into soup bowls. Dollop each serving with sour cream or crème fresh and sprinkle with diced tomato (or asparagus tips).