Updated: May 17
ASPARAGUS ARE POPPING THROUGH THE GROUND this week in NW Michigan. Our region has several farms that are devoted to these springtime gems. The plants survived a long winter and are now at roadside stands. They should be available for about a month, well into June.
Coming June 3, 2023, is the annual Asparagus Festival in the village of Empire devoted to everything that is asparagus. For $5 you are admitted to the festivities. From the past festivals, I recall some character on stilts donning a patch-worked green costume resembling an asparagus and deftly following the volunteer fire department’s vintage tanker truck.
My lady and I visited Joe’s Friendly Tavern a few years ago during the event and enjoyed their version of Asparagus Soup joined by a couple of beers. The soup had a hint of Tarragon in the recipe which was a very nice touch.
The Village of Empire was once a 19th Century logging port. There are remnants of the logging venture here and there. You can still see black and white photos showing trains and ships being loaded with virgin timber and milled lumber to be sent down the big lake. For decades Chicago residents benefitted from Michigan's forests as they were rebuilding their city destroyed by Mrs. O’Leary’s mishap while milking her damn cow.
Today Empire boasts artisan shops, antiques, chocolatiers, and ice cream concessions. A memorable sandy beach with swings and picnic areas is down at Lake Michigan. It is the archetypical Michigan village at its finest with some very respectable eateries with great soups.
2 Lbs. FRESH Asparagus (Norconk’s)
Big onion chopped
Two russet potatoes peeled and diced
Garlic cloves to taste
Half and Half / 4-8 oz.
Salt and Pepper
Even as fresh as these asparagus were I used the ends (about 3 inches) to make a fifteen-minute stock in my soup pot boiled in a quart of water then discarded them. I then added a quart of chicken stock, the chopped onion, garlic, potatoes, and the next third of the asparagus in one-inch slices, and simmered for twenty minutes. In the end, I add the chopped asparagus tips, milk, Tarragon, salt, and pepper, and simmer for fifteen minutes.
I am a fan of immersion blenders, but this day I chose to leave all veggies as is. Voila, a taste of springtime in northern Michigan!