Photo by Eugenia BONE
Provenance of Dish
That’s German for white asparagus soup. This one is super elegant, and doesn’t call for cream. White asparagus are, to quote Cook’s Illustrated, “simply green asparagus that have never seen the light of day.” Soil is mounded over the asparagus as it grows, blocking the sun. As a result, the plant’s chlorophyll and its associated greenness never develop. White asparagus should be peeled as their skin is bitter, but underneath they are sweet and tender. They are a springtime treat, often expensive, and marvelous with the other treasure of the season, morels.
1 pound white asparagus
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
½ cup minced white onion
3 cups chicken stock
20 or so small fresh or dried morels (if dried, rehydrate in cool water for 15 minutes, drain)
Dash of sherry
2 tablespoon water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the lower ¾ of the asparagus. Chop the asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces, leaving the tips intact. Set the tips aside.
Heat 2 tablespoon butter in a medium side soup pot over a medium high heat. When the butter is melted add the onion and cook until the onion is soft, a few minutes. Add the asparagus (but not the tips) and continue cooking, stirring often, until the asparagus begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Don’t let anything get brown! Turn the heat down a bit if you need to. Add the stock, cover and cook at a bare bubble over a medium heat, for 30 to 35 minutes until the asparagus are very soft. Take the soup off the heat.
In the meantime, heat the remaining tablespoon of butter in a medium skillet over a medium heat and add the morels. Cook the morels until they deflate and soften, about 5 minutes. Add a glug of sherry and the water and continue cooking until the morels are fork tender.
Puree the asparagus soup in batches. I usually fish out the vegetables and just puree them, then stir the puree back into the stock. Add the asparagus tips and return the soup to a medium heat. Cook gently until the asparagus tips are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the white wine and season to taste.
Serve the soup with a share of the morels on top of each bowl. A little fresh chopped parsley is nice, or fresh chopped chives. I’ll often garnish with minced onion grass if I find it growing in the yard, which we usually do in the spring.