Downturn Dish: A soup for all seasons

April 22, 2009

April is a confusing time for Chicagoans:‚  One day I am wearing flip-flops, the next day I can't walk three feet without needing gloves. So in the spirit of can't-make-up-its-mind weather, I am sharing a recipe that's equally confused. Asparagus soup, which would appear to be a hearty cold-weather dish, actually features a vegetable that's in season from March to June. Please enjoy this simple meal from Elise Bauer that uses in-season ingredients but will keep you cozy until the weather figures out what it wants to be. Creamy Asparagus Soup Serves 4-6 Ingredients:

2 lbs asparagus

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

5 cups chicken broth

Leaves of 2 sprigs of fresh thyme

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 Tbsp dry vermouth

A squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper

1. Cut tips from 12 asparagus 1 1/2 inches from top and halve tips lengthwise if thick. Reserve for garnish. Cut stalks and all remaining asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces. 2. Cook onion in butter in a 4 or 6-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add asparagus pieces and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add 5 cups broth, thyme, and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. 3. While soup simmers, cook reserved asparagus tips in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain. 4. Purĩe soup in batches in a blender until smooth. If you want a very creamy texture, you can put the purĩe through a food mill or press it through a sieve. Transfer to a bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids), and return to pan. Stir in cream. Stir in vermouth and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.