In Britain, before globalisation brought in many imported food varieties and before vegetables were grown in carefully controlled green houses, early to mid spring used to be a period of a ‘hungry gap’, a time when there was little or no produce for British farmers to harvest. During this period of time, the very few choices of vegetables in season are purple sprouting broccoli, wild garlic, asparagus and rhubarb…etc. Amongst these, asparagus is probably the most favoured by many! It is tasty eaten alone or mixed with other ingredients; and no matter how you cook it – boiled, roasted, stir-fried… name it. Have you been taking advantages of the asparagus season?
We are sharing two asparagus soup recipes here. The first one is more suitable to share with your children and the second one is perhaps more of a grown-up version. The amount of listed ingredients can all be adjusted according to personal tastes.
Asparagus and Pea Soup
*This recipe serves 2~4 people as the starter of a meal
- asparagus x 250 – 300 g (8 – 10 stems)
- peas (fresh or frozen) x half cup
- potato (small to medium size) x1
- onion (small to medium size) x1
- olive oil (or any other types of cooking oil) x 2 table spoons
- bouillon x 2 tea spoons
- salt & pepper (depending on personal taste, may not be needed)
- pea shoots, goat’s cheese or flowers of three cornered leek** to serve
** Three cornered leek is a wild flower blooming in spring. Both it’s leaves and flowers are edible. It tastes similar to chives. Some green grocers and farm shops sell them as a seasonal delicacy. You can also forage or grow your own. Please only consume this wild vegetable if you are confident in identifying it.
1. Cut the potato, onion and asparaguses into small pieces. Your child might become tired of chopping the same vegetables every week. Asparaguses can be a new challenge for them because following your demonstration, they will learn how to only peel off the tougher skin at the bottom, then cut the stems into little pieces. They can also help taking the peas out of pea pods when fresh garden peas are available. It is better that younger children avoid cutting onions. If older children want to try, remind them to keep their eyes not too close to the onion and not to touch their eyes or mouth after handling onions.
2. In a sauce pan, cook the onion and potato with oil. Stir them well, then add in bouillon and reasonable amount of water. Leave to cook until the vegetables are softened.
3. Add in the asparagus and peas. Cook for 6 – 8 minutes, then switch off the cooker and leave the soup to cool down a bit.
4. Liquidise the soup in a blender when cooled. Pour the soup back to the pan and warm it up.
5. For the vegan version, garnish the soup with pea shoots (flowers of three cornered leek) and a little bit of olive oil. For the vegetarian version, garnish the soup with goat’s cheese and pea shoots. You can add salt and pepper according to personal taste.
Asparagus and Watercress Soup
*This recipe serves 2 people as the starter of a meal or a light supper for one
- asparagus x 5 – 7 stems
- water cress x a bunch of roughly 80 – 100 g
- flowering three cornered leek x 3 stems **
- garlic clove x 1 (if three cornered leek not available, use 2 cloves)
- oil x 1 table spoon
- coconut milk x 200 ml
- salt & pepper
- juice of half a lime
1. Wash the vegetables. Peel off the hard skin at the bottom of the asparagus. Cut 5cm from the middle of each asparagus, then slice them into thin strips. Take off the flowers of three cornered leeks. Put the flowers and the thin strips of asparagus aside. Cut the rest of the asparaguses, three cornered leek stems and watercress into small pieces. Cut the garlic into slices.
2. In a pan, heat up the oil and cook the garlic. When you smell a nice aroma of cooking garlic, add in the bottom part of the asparagus and cook for a few minutes.
3. Add reasonable amount of water to the pan, heat up a bit, then add in the asparagus tips, watercress and three cornered leek. Stir well and cook until the vegetables are softened. Now add in the coconut milk, stir well, cook for a couple of minutes, then switch off the cooker and leave to cool.
4. In the mean time, you can blanch the thin strips of asparagus in boiling water. When the soup mixture is not too hot, liquidise it in the blender. Pour the soup back to the pan, add in the asparagus strips and cook until you feel the strips are soft enough to your taste. Season with salt and pepper.
5. When serving, add in some lime juice, sprinkle with a bit of olive oil and garnish with the flowers of three cornered leek. This soup goes well with sourdough bread.