Jeff & Linda's Kitchen of Diversity
Asparagus Soup - Spargelsuppe
Soups were a vital part of the communal kitchen repertoire, as they were able to feed a large number of people simply, and typically with ingredients that were always on hand. Not a day went by when some soup was not served, especially for the noon meal.
One of the most cherished parts of each communal kitchen garden was the asparagus patch, which the Gartenbaas treated with special care. The deep, rich soils and temperate climate of eastern Iowa are particularly well suited for asparagus, and these beds were maintained for generations, with a given patch often having been planted by the grandmother of the Gartenbaas, Küchebaas, or communal kitchen patrons. By May, the first succulent asparagus stems were emerging from the dark loam, and the kitchens looked forward to serving this ephemeral spring delicacy.
For our lunch meal we’re making an iconic spring soup -- Asparagus Soup, or Spargelsuppe. Because this is a blended soup, it also works well near the end of the season when the asparagus stem bases have become a bit woody. 8 servings.
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 leek, chopped fine
8 cups vegetable stock
2 pounds asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
½ teaspoon thyme
1 cup cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Melt butter in kettle over medium-high heat, and sauté leek until wilted (about 5 minutes), stirring frequently. Whisk in flour, and cook another 2 minutes. Add in stock and mix well to dissolve all clumps. Add thyme and asparagus, reserving the tips. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 30 minutes or until the asparagus is tender. Puree the asparagus-leek-broth mixture until smooth using an immersion blender, food processor, or food mill. Stir in cream, and adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and add in reserved asparagus tips. Warm over low heat until the asparagus tips are poached, bright green, and tender, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Any homegrown asparagus can be used but Precoce d'Argenteul will look especially lovely with their purple-tipped spears. A good leek for this recipe is Bleu de Solaise. French Thyme provides a wonderful sweet flavor profile as a seasoning.