In spite of the jokes about our supposed two seasons, it’s springtime in Montana and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t engage in the time-honored tradition of picking (it grows wild or can be cultivated) and eating asparagus.
One of my favorite ways of preparing asparagus is in a bisque (or cream of asparagus soup, if you like) and it’s really quite simple. In my kitchen, I consider this “bisque” because of the addition of sherry at the end, not unlike most seafood bisques. Without the sherry, it’s fair to call it cream of asparagus soup.
The important thing is that the soup, consisting primarily of pulverized asparagus, maintains the integrity of the vegetable in the way it tastes. The use of the tips as both garnish and flavoring agent helps to ensure this.
Asparagus Bisque recipe
2 lbs asparagus, woody ends snapped off
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable)
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups half and half
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp sherry or cream sherry (like Harvey’s)
If your asparagus is thick, gently peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler. Cut into 1-inch pieces and reserve the tips. Place the asparagus into a pot with the stock and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the asparagus softens, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside 2 cups of broth and keep warm.
Puree asparagus and remaining broth in a blender. Take care because hot liquids tend to expand when agitated, so puree in batches, if necessary. Return the puree to the pot.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring continuously with a whisk. Whisk in reserved broth and increase heat to medium, stirring until smooth and thickened, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to the pot with the asparagus puree. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring continuously. While stirring, add half and half, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
Add sherry and incorporate well.
Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with reserved asparagus tips.
There’s absolutely nothing like roasted asparagus and if you’re not in an ambitious mood to make Asparagus Bisque, here’s what you can do:
Heat your oven to 425. Lay trimmed asparagus spears on a rimmed sheet pan and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Sprinkle coarse salt and coarsely ground black pepper over the spears. Roast for about 8 to 10 minutes and serve with your main course.