After a long, and often brutal winter, Minnesotans are eager for spring.We watch for buds on trees and bulbs peeking through snow. The arrival of fresh asparagus in grocery stores is another sign of spring. If the asparagus is available, warmer days must be coming.
I wheeled by cart past the asparagus display — tall spears set in crushed ice — and then doubled back. Since I was cooking for one I didn’t need a large bunch of this spring vegetable. Still, I could buy some and use it in several ways. To stay fresh asparagus must be stored properly. I treat it like flowers. I cut off some of the woody stem part, plunk it in a glass of water, cover it with a plastic bag, and put it in the fridge.
This flavorful spring vegetable has many health benefits. “Asparagus Nutrition Facts,” an article on the Nutrition and You website, the vegetable is in calories, contains fiber, contains anti-oxidants, is rich in folates, contains vitamins E and K, plus copper and iron. According to the article, the spears were revered by Greeks and Romans.
I revere it, too, and that’s why I decided to use half of the bunch in stir-fry, and the other half in soup. An experienced cook, I decided to create my own recipe. On his way through the kitchen my grandson asked, “What are you making?” He seemed a bit surprised when I told him I was making soup. Later, when he had some for lunch he was more surprised.
“It’s good!” he exclaimed. I hope you think my recipe is good and will use this spring vegetable in many ways. Substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth if you are a vegetarian. For heartier soup add some cooked, shredded chicken. Here’s the recipe.
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
26-ounce carton chicken broth (salted or unsalted)
1/2 bunch fresh asparagus
1 rib celery, finely diced
2 tablespoons red pepper, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
Salt to taste (may be omitted)
1/2 cup grated and mixed Parmesan-Romano cheese
Rinse asparagus and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer pieces to a microwave dish, add a little water, cover, and cook three minutes on high. Melt butter in soup kettle. Add in flour and cook for one minute, whisking constantly. Gradually add chicken broth, still whisking constantly. Continue whisking until any lumps are gone. Using a slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to soup kettle. Add all remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer on lowest setting for 10 minutes to blend flavors. Pass extra cheese if desired. Makes 6 servings.