Spring is definitely here. I know that because in the spring my Gumbo Limbo tree loses its leaves and grows new ones seemingly right before my eyes. I also know it’s Spring because gorgeous bright green slender asparagus are abundant at the market. I have lived in South Florida for thirty one years now and that is how I differentiate between the seasons.
I grew up in Philadelphia and my family’s lovely little ranch house was built on land that was originally a farm. We moved in when I was six years old and I still remember my mother’s frustration over the asparagus. We had beautiful landscaping with lush flower beds and fruit trees. The problem was that every Spring the asparagus from the old farm would grow back in the flower beds. My mom cooked them every which way to Sunday until they finally stopped growing. That was a very good thing because we had all grown quite sick of asparagus! Years and years passed before I actually craved those tasty spears again.
Nowadays I love to grill asparagus, roast asparagus, and shave them in salads. But my favorite preparation is creamy asparagus soup. That’s the dish that brings back those childhood memories the most.
Asparagus Soup With Parmesan Shortbread Coins From Food and Wine Magazine
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (6-oz)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley leaves
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Finely grated lemon zest, for garnish
1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the flour, cheese, thyme, lemon zest and salt. Add the butter and egg yolks and beat at medium speed until lightly moistened crumbs form. Gather the crumbs and knead to form a 2-inch-thick log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Slice the log 1/4 inch thick and arrange on the baking sheets. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden around the edges; let cool on the sheets.
3. In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the onion, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer until the asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes.
4. Add the 1/4 cup of tarragon and the parsley. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Return the soup to the pot, add the cream and peas; re-warm. Season with salt and white pepper to taste and garnish with tarragon and zest. Serve with the Parmesan coins. Makes six servings.