Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Yesterday, I went on a day trip to Boston, exploring the city and eating food. I was excited to stop by Haymarket, which is a weekend market where farmers sell produce for extremely low prices. The place is extremely hectic, the floors are dirty with dropped fruits and vegetables, there's barely space to move, and the vendors are yelling constantly. However, the produce is extremely cheap. I was able to score 3 bunches of asparagus for $1! Sadly, I was too excited and took the first ones I found (which happened to be as soon as I walked into the plaza). As I walked around, I saw the same deal, but with much fresher looking asparagus... But still, it was only a dollar! I came home and had to trim off more from the asparagus than I would have liked, but it was still good enough to make some yummy soup!

Cream of Asparagus Soup (Makes 4 small servings)
1 lb Asparagus
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 cups Water
4 cloves Garlic
1 cup Heavy Cream
2 tbsp Butter
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1 tsp Salt
4 tbsp Sour Cream, for garnish
4 slices Bacon, for garnish (optional)
2 tbsp Olive Oil, for garnish
1 tbsp Lemon Juice, for garnish
Baguette, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Rinse and trim the ends off of the asparagus.
3. Place onto a baking sheet and season with salt,  pepper, garlic powder, lemon juice, and and olive oil.
4. Bake until tender, about 20 minutes.
5. Cut the asparagus after its cooled down into 1 inch pieces.
6. Place into a medium sized pot with 1 cup of water. With 4 roughly chopped cloves of garlic
7. Boil the asparagus for about 10 minutes, until very tender.
8. Use an immersion blender to puree the asparagus. If you don't have an immersion blender, use a regular blender.
9. Once the asparagus is smooth, add cream, butter, sour cream, and salt.
10. Mix until smooth, and thickened. It will not be completely smooth, since the asparagus fibers are not smooth. The finished soup will have a chowder or bisque consistency.
11. Slice baguette and toast in the oven.
12. Cook bacon until crispy. Cut into small pieces.
13. Pour soup into serving bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream (about a tbsp), sprinkle of bacon pieces, drizzle (1/2 tbsp) of olive oil, and a small squirt of lemon juice (1/4 tbsp). Finish with the toasted baguette slices and serve immediately.

The soup alone can look like baby food, but the garnishes add a color and texture to the soup to make it much more appetizing. You can toast the remaining baguette and serve it with the soup. It's very rich, so it's a good idea to have the extra bread to balance.

 Markets like Haymarket aren't anything like the boutique farmers markets where organic farmers sell their locally grown produce for high prices. It's more like the TJ Maxx of produce, but dirtier, cheaper, and louder. The produce that the grocery stores do not accept get taken to the market to be sold for lower prices. You have to look a little harder to find quality produce, but for the bargain, the inferior quality is not something to be upset about. 

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