Every spring, I welcome the new crop of produce available at the market, as well as the flowers starting to poke through the soil in front of my condo: hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips all represent the beginning of spring to me.
I may not yet have flowers to enjoy, but I can at least start cooking. I saw an easy recipe for cream of asparagus soup in Everyday Food, and I couldn’t wait to try this soup on a cold, grey day. The time arrived earlier this week. I was a little short on the amount of asparagus needed (the original recipe calls for three pounds), so I decided to add some green beans that had been hanging out in my freezer a little too long. Even with my changes, the taste of asparagus was the most prevalent in this soup. The lemon helped brighten things up and cut through the fat a bit, resulting in a nice overall balance.
I made the cheesy croutons to go with the soup because, frankly, the soup alone for lunch wouldn’t be enough to get me through to dinner. I used gruyere because I adore it, but as I ate the first crouton I realized that parmesan probably would have been a better choice. Oh well, next time. . .
Cream of Asparagus Soup
adapted from Everyday Food
3 tablespoons butter
5 large shallots, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
3 tablespoons flour
5 cups water
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, chopped into 1 inch pieces
½ pound green beans (fresh or frozen), chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup cream
juice of ½ lemon (or to taste)
baguette, sliced into ½ in pieces
gruyere or parmesan slices
for the soup:
Melt butter in medium saucepan over moderate heat. Add shallots and cook until soft. Add flour and cook, stirring frequently, for one minute. Add asparagus, beans, and water; season with salt. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until asparagus is bright green. Uncover and remove from heat.
Puree using an immersion blender (or in batches using a standard blender). Add lemon juice and cream, taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary.
For the croutons:
Preheat oven to 450*F. Arrange bread on a rimmed baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until golden.
Turn the broiler on. Place a slice of cheese on each crouton and broil until bubbly. Serve the croutons with the soup.