Sunday, May 9, 2010

First Tip

In the last ten days one of the foods I refuse to eat unless it comes locally has returned. Asparagus stands erect in the grocery all year long – Peru, Mexico, California all allocate generous plots of land for the tender tips of a potential fern. While I appreciate their efforts the eventual offering is lackluster. The cut bottoms tend to be scabbed over; their outer skin tough and fibrous. I just cannot eat these long-range stalks not to mention that, for me, they are decidedly more bitter then they should be. Plus they are definitely fatter then I will want them. That is not to say, that the more endowed stalks don’t have their merits – anytime I am going to puree the asparagus they are the ones I will seek. But nine times out of ten I like them no thicker than a pencil. There is a farmer who is harvesting an asparagus so thin it is more like the lead in the pencil – I love those. Under the broiler for a few minutes, and they are done.

Now, some complain that their pee smells after eating asparagus, and your point is. Yes, there is an amino acid compound that breakdowns with digestion, and is clearly water-soluble. Welcome to spring!!

Asparagus and Sorrel Soup – yields 4 to 6 servings
1-tablespoon olive oil
1-medium onion – diced
1-leek (white portion only) – diced and washed
2 garlic cloves – dice
1/2-pound Yukon gold potatoes – peeled and diced
1-pound asparagus – chopped (save the tips for garnish)
3-cups chicken or vegetable stock
1-packed cup sorrel leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat a 4-quart saucepan over medium flame, and add the oil, onion and leeks. Cook the onions until the onions loose their raw look. Then add the garlic and potatoes and cook for a few minutes. Then add the asparagus and stock. Bring the stock to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for 30 to 45 minutes.

Puree the soup with the sorrel leaves. Pass the soup through a fine sieve and return to a saucepan. Warm the soup through, and season with salt and black. Serve garnished with the reserved asparagus tips.

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