Springtime is asparagus time! Magically, the bright green spears appear from under moist, dark soil. The stalks are crisp and firm, with tender tips in shades of purplish green. Look for asparagus with tightly packed tips.
To keep asparagus fresh, cut an inch or two off the woody bottoms. Store the spears upright in a glass containing a few inches of water. Lightly covered, these beauties will stay fresh in your refrigerator for about a week.
Then when the mood hits, you are ready! Steamed asparagus with poached eggs for breakfast…asparagus soup for lunch…roasted asparagus and red peppers with balsamic drizzle for dinner. The possibilities are delicious!
This recipe below may challenge your view of soups—it is chilled. The earthy asparagus pairs well with sesame undertones and a hint of lemon. Refrigerating the silky blend allows each subtle flavor to make its statement.
Chilled Asparagus Soup with Lemon and Sesame
- 1 pound asparagus
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 quart vegetable stock
- 1 t. salt
- 2 T. sesame seeds
- 3 c. spinach leaves
- 1 lemon
- 1/4 c. tahini
Trim woody ends off asparagus. With a vegetable peeler, peel bottom 4 inches of asparagus to remove fibrous layer. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Peel and mince garlic.
In a four-quart pot, warm olive oil over low heat. Sauté garlic for a minute, until fragrance releases. Add asparagus, stock, and one teaspoon salt. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then simmer with lid on for 10 minutes—until asparagus is very tender.
Heat a small frying pan over high heat for one minute. Reduce heat to medium. Add sesame seeds to dry pan. Toast for 2-3 minutes, shaking pan frequently to prevent scorching. Remove from heat when seeds are light golden brown. Set aside.
After the soup has simmered, use a slotted spoon to remove one-half cup of asparagus tips for garnish.
Remove stems from spinach leaves. Add spinach to soup. Remove soup from heat and let stand (covered) for 30 minutes. Flavors will meld and soup will cool slightly.
Juice the lemon. Add to soup along with tahini. Purée with a hand blender, traditional blender, or in batches in a food processor. Taste. Add salt and pepper as needed.
Chill soup for 2-3 hours (or more). Serve with a garnish of asparagus tips and sesame seeds.