Asparagus in Empire
ASPARAGUS ARE SPROUTING in northern Michigan. This annual occurrence is welcomed by me and just about everyone else I know. From mid-May, thru most of June, roadside stands appear up and down M-22 dedicated to asparagus and do they ever do a brisk business. It is a rite of spring and this single event is cheered by locals who made it through winter, finally to be rewarded with our season's first cultivated crop.
I was never an asparagus fan as a youngster. My parents primarily focused on spring peas in June, then yellow and green beans in the middle of summer, absolutely delighted with their roadside finds. That is still the lure for me, enjoying the bounty delivered from our dedicated farms in Michigan. Plus, asparagus are a heck of a lot easier to find then morels. I would, however, accept the mushrooms should someone decide to leave them at my doorstep. Trust me, I’d find a recipe.
I was in my thirties when asparagus finally came into my life becoming a favorite for my own dinners. I remember serving them with a baked potato and sour cream that I topped with fresh snipped chives taken from an early clump in my own garden. I wasn’t fussy about the main course because asparagus and potatoes go with beef, pork, or chicken. Now that I have cut back on red meat, and mostly use chicken for making stock, my tastes have evolved to make a vast array of soups.
This recipe is my own creation but the idea of finishing with Tarragon I got from the Village Inn in Empire a few season's ago. It adds a very nice flavor.
Enjoy the May harvest and make the soup, it is truly a mark of springtime in northern Michigan.
2 Lbs. FRESH Asparagus
Big white onion chopped
Two medium russet potatoes peeled and diced
One large clove of garlic chopped
Chicken stock – 1 quart
Half and Half / 8 oz.
Pad of butter
Salt and Pepper
Even as fresh as these asparagus are, I still cut off the ends (about 3 inches) and make a fifteen-minute stock in my soup pot boiling them in a quart of water. I discard them in case they have remnant fiber strands. I then add a quart of chicken stock, chopped onion, garlic, and potatoes. Add the next third of the asparagus in one-inch slices and simmer twenty-minutes. I use an immersion blender for a quick spin, but it is not necessary if you like the chunks. Near the end, I add the chopped asparagus tips, half and half, butter, Tarragon, salt and pepper, and simmer for fifteen minutes.