We try. We really, really try to restrain ourselves at our local markets. But we grow weak in the presence of so many fresh vegetables, acutely aware of the change of seasons. (Because of the dampness, strawberry season this year has been lamentably brief.) Overeager to grab good things before they’re gone for another year, we ended up with way too much asparagus sitting in our refrigerator. The previous week’s haul drooped their tips in disappointment as we added yet another bag of fresher, prettier spears.
Feeling guilty for letting the lovely veg languish in Sub-Zero purgatory, Michelle scoured her sources for a suitable atonement. This velouté, from Deborah Madison’s The Savory Way, superbly made the most out of slightly out-of-date asparagus. The soup’s vegetable stock was light and fresh, with milk and a touch of cream adding a bit of richness. We used some frozen edamame along with the peas the recipe called for, rescuing yet another near-casualty of our overstuffed larder. Our consciences clean, we look ahead to the coming weeks of Summer, and the guilty pleasures we’re sure to find and (hopefully) not let go to waste.
ASPARAGUS, PEA AND EDAMAME VELOUTÉ
(adapted from Deborah Madison’s The Savory Way) (Serves 4-6)
1 pound asparagus
1-½ c. frozen peas (and/or hulled frozen edamame)
1 quart water
1 shallot, sliced
5 parsley branches and leaves
3 small bunches scallions, roughly chopped
3 TB butter
3 TB flour
2 c. milk
½ c. cream
freshly ground pepper
handful of chives
Trim woody ends from the asparagus stalks. Slice the top third of each stalk in approximately 1-inch pieces on the diagonal, leaving the tips whole. (Halve the pieces lengthwise if the stalk is thick.) Roughly chop the remaining bottom stems, and set them aside. You will use them later for the vegetable stock.
Bring water, salted generously, to a boil. Quickly blanch the asparagus tips and sliced stems—removing with a slotted spoon just as the water begins to return to a boil. Place in a colander and run under cold water.
Remove peas and edamame from freezer and let thaw.
Using the same water, add the chopped lower asparagus stems, the sliced shallot, a handful of the peas and edamame and the parsley. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain, reserving the stock and discarding the vegetables. (Our chickens loved them.)
Melt butter in a soup pot and add the scallions. Gently cook for about 5 minutes or until they soften, then stir in the flour. Mix well, then whisk in the strained stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every so often to make sure no flour sticks to the bottom. Pour the soup into a blender and purée until smooth.
Return the soup to the stove, adding the milk, cream and the asparagus and peas and edamame. Cook until warm, adding salt and pepper to taste. Snip chives over.