A few weeks ago, one of our friends on twitter was talking about a fresh delivery of asparagus she received and what she was going to make with it, this Asparagus and Rice soup.
Luckily, she pointed me to a recipe and, you know, we’re always looking for new asparagus recipes.
We are extremely lucky here in Seattle. The asparagus is sweet, tender… Fantastic. I think there’s only one problem with asparagus here. It only sticks around for barely two months, if that.
We easily go through 1-2 pounds a week while it is here, and we’ve posted quite a few recipes using it, but, we’re always torn.
Do we stick with those that we know and love, knowing that asparagus is such a short-lived commodity, or do we explore new recipes, possibly ruining the spears with a bad recipe, but hopefully getting a new recipe to share with our readers.
We rarely share our failures, although, some day, perhaps we should share one of our more extravagant failures. Believe me, they do happen.
The first night we had this soup, I thought it was a failure. It wasn’t spectacular, it was just sort of there, in the bowl. The second day, the flavor seemed to… grow, expand. The soup was more flavorful, more vibrant.
- Fresh Asparagus, 1 1/2 lb, rinsed
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons
- Garlic, 4 cloves, peeled, crushed, diced
- Potatoes, 2 cups, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- Leeks, 3 cups, cut into 1/4 inch slices, white and green bits
- Water, 5 quarts
- Bay Leaves, 2
- Coarse Sea Salt, 1 tablespoon
- Emmer (or Arborio Rice), 1 cup
- Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1 cup, grated or shaved
- Snap off the bottoms of the asparagus and discard.
- Cut the spears into 1/3 inch bits.
- Pour the 1/3 cup of oil into a large pot over medium-high heat and add the garlic, cooking for a minute or two.
- Add the potatoes to the pot, cooking for 5-7 minutes, stiring occasionally, until potatoes are beginning to brown.
- Add the leeks and give them a stir, cooking for 3-4 more minutes.
- Add the 5 quarts of water to the pot, along with bay leaves and salt.
- Stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot to make sure nothing is sticking.
- Cover and raise the heat to high until boiling.
- Add the asparagus and bring back to a boil.
- Leave the heat high enough to keep the soup at a slow boil for an hour and a 15 minutes. You’re looking to reduce the liquid about a third.
- Add in the emmer (if you’re using arborio rice, wait 15 more minutes, and only cook the rice for 10 minutes) and continue cooking for approximately a half hour.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the tablespoon of olive oil and a half cup of cheese and mix well.
Note: The extra half cup of cheese should be used to garnish the soup in the bowl. Thoughts from the Mrs: I loved this soup. Unlike John, I actually loved it from the first day, but he is right that it was amazing as the days went on. We ate this for three or four meals in a row (along with some other leftovers we had), and it never got boring. The reason this soup spoke to me so strongly is that is truly is the perfect spring soup. It isn’t so heavy that you feel like you have to wait for a cold day to make it and it tastes like all the hope and promise of spring. I’m not usually given to waxing poetic about my food, but the combination of the olive oil, the asparagus, the Parmesan and the long, slow cooking was just amazing. Please make this soup.
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