I was in high school when the first Star Wars movie came out. Because I loved it (and Luke Skywalker), and it was the only movie that the theater showed all summer, I saw it 28 times over the course of three months. Of course, I can recite the thing line for line still, but two of the scenes that were especially fun for me as a youngster were the ones in the kitchen where Aunt Beru served up blue bantha milk for supper and in the morning was putting some bizarre looking vegetable in a machine. Even though I can recognize it as fennel now, I still clearly remember wondering how they got such an odd looking food for a movie. It’s easy to fake aliens, harder to fake real food.
Of course, now that I’ve immersed myself in cooking, I’ve seen all manner of odd looking fruits and vegetables both in person and print that make fennel look downright tame. Where was the Kiwano melon when Lucas was making this movie? While asparagus isn’t as high on the list as other funky foods, it does have a pretty bizarre look to it, especially when you consider the fact that what we eat is just the beginning shoot of a plant that can grow up to 6 feet high.
All that thoughtful meandering is a result of the dish that I made for lunch today; Creamy Asparagus Soup. Sometimes when I’m cooking I’m contemplating other things; like why my daughter has to grow up, why she’s not growing up any faster, or why Mario Batali left Food Network and now has his show on Fine Living Channel.
I love asparagus and am always looking for good and creative ways to serve it since it’s so good for my family. Soup’s generally a popular dish for us so I jumped at the opportunity to make this, especially since there is also leek in this recipe, another vegetable I love.
As far as the preparation, the ingredient amounts were spot on, however the cooking times seemed way off. It took my pinky finger (and smaller) sized asparagus pieces much longer than 10 minutes to cook before they softened and MUCH longer than five minutes to boil once I added the broth until they were tender. Even so, once I had gotten them to the right consistency, once I blended it all, there were still lots of strings in the soup. The instructions instructed me to peel the spears if they were thicker than 1/2 inch, which mine weren’t. I wish I had anyhow.
The soup itself is excellent if you can get past the stringiness. I didn’t much care for the heads of the asparagus floating around in there and if I were to make this again I’d puree them with the rest, but that’s just my opinion. It was creamy, flavorful and very satisfying as far as soup goes.
Both my husband and daughter also enjoyed it and I was grateful that there weren’t any questions about why we were eating one of the Veggies from Veggie Tales (that’s always a hard one to answer).
Creamy Asparagus Soup
from Cook’s Country Magazine, April/May 2010
2 pounds asparagus, stem ends trimmed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
Salt and pepper
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Cut tips off asparagus spears and chop stalks into 1/2-inch pieces. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add asparagus tips and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
Add remaining butter and asparagus, leeks, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to empty pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.
Add broth to pot and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in peas and Parmesan. Puree soup in blender in 2 batches and return to pot. Stir in cream, lemon juice and asparagus tips and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.