Asparagus & Pea Soup With Herb Crackers

Friday, May 27, 2011

Asparagus Soup & Herbed Crackers

With the temperatures well into the 90s already, it's crazy to feel that Spring almost feels like a distant memory. But it is. Almost. I know how short the seasons can be for fruits and vegetables when I am able to find asparagus at the farmers market one week and hardly the next. I love seeing the display of these vibrant green or sometimes purple stalks.

Asparagus season always brings about fond memories of Sunday dinners back home in France. My heart strongly swayed in favor of freshly steamed artichokes but my mother had a knack for making steamed asparagus so perfectly well that my palate was all out of sorts when it came to pick a favorite. My favorite way to eat them was when she'd serve them with a light vinaigrette. Just like I liked artichokes in vinaigrette or leeks in vinaigrette. Clearly, I have a thing for vinaigrette!

Herbed Crackers

However, there are enough salads and vinaigrette in my Southern warm life to want to change things up. One of our other staples for dinners is often a big bowl of soup and a poached egg on top. We are big fans and big believers of the "life is better with poached egg on top". Makes leftovers take on a brand new life, brings a simple dish of sauteed kale and garlic to new and wonderful heights and well, just makes us weak in the knees to see that yellow yokey goodness from a farm fresh egg ...

I disgress...Soup! Yes! Soup holds a special place in our meals. When I was growing up, my mom would start every dinner with a small cup or bowl of soup. Just veggies, pureed smooth, no starch. Piping hot with a little swirl of creme fraiche. It was her ritual to ensure we'd get our veggies in. I created a whole game around it to try and name as many veggies she included as possible. I think it played a major role in developing my palate over the years.

Asparagus

When I was planning my move to the US in the late 90s, there was no doubt in my mind that I would keep this tradition of having soup at dinner. Then I moved to the South. The hot and humid climate of the region turned me away from steamy soup for a while. I went all out on gazpacho, Vichyssoise, cold cucumber and dill, etc... Slowly, over the years, I went back to warm, sometimes piping hot soup, no matter the weather. Not just vegetable soups like I had eaten all my life. I was onto lentil soup, chowders, single vegetable based soups, etc...

One day last week that I was making dinner for my parents(they are visiting us here), it felt as if I had turned their world upside down when I said I was going to make Asparagus and Pea Soup as a starter for dinner. We never had a soup with just two veggies when I was growing up! I knew this one would win them over just the way it had won B. over a couple of weeks before.

Pea Blossoms

Some really tasty meals can come out of throwing a bit of this and a little of that together in a pot. It happened with this soup. One I could make time and time over and eat just about as much. It tastes a bit different every time. It wraps the house with the softest smell of Spring.

I guess you can make it all year long and still enjoy some of the lovely flavors. You can have anything pretty much all year long the way supermarkets are set up these days. But I encourage you to take advantage of the ingredients in season where you are. Their taste is so intense that it will often surprise your tastebuds with this "I had forgotten an eggplant had this much flavor!"

Herbed Crackers

It happened with this soup when I combined the first asparagus of the season with a few handful of pea blossoms I picked up at the market. I knew the season would be short and I had waited long enough for each ingredient! That's also why I love seasonal cooking. The wait and anticipation of the first raspberries, squash blossoms. Then the explosion of flavors in our mouths sending signals of goodness all through our souls.

This soup fits the bill perfectly. Simple. Satisfying. I bet it would be even better with a poached egg on top but the herb crackers I made to go along were a great complement and a nice change to croutons. Worth waiting another Spring for!

Asparagus Soup


Asparagus And Pea Soup with Herb Crackers:

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer and 4 as meal

Ingredients:
1 bunch asparagus (about one pound)
1 to 2 cups pea blossoms, pea shoots or peas (fresh or frozen)
2 gloves garlic, skin removed
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Snap the ends of the asparagus. Bring a large pot filled with water to a boil over high heat. Throw in the asparagus and cook them for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the asparagus from the water with a slotted spoon and place them in a blender or food processor (or deep bowl if using an immersion blender). Do not discard the cooking water. Bring back to a boil, throw in the pea blossoms, pea shoots or peas and cook for about 3 minutes if using pea shoots/blossoms, and 5 if using fresh or frozen peas. Add the garlic at the same time you add the peas. Remove from the heat and remove the pea shoots/blossoms/peas and garlic with a slotted spoon. Reserve the cooking liquid. Place in the blender with the asparagus and puree until smooth. You might need to add some of the cooking liquid to reach the consistency that you like. Season with salt and pepper and serve either hot or room temperatures.

Herbed Crackers:

Makes about 24 small ones

Ingredients:
1 stick butter at room temperature
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped oregano
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
1 cup millet flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup milk (optional)

Directions:
In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter and egg yolks together on medium speed until creamy looking. Add salt and pepper and the herbs and whip for 10 seconds just to mix them in at low speed. Add the millet and sweet rice flour with the mixer still on low speed. If the mixture feels too crumbly add a little bit of milk to obtain a smooth but not too wet dough. Start with one tablespoon at a time.
Gather the dough into a bowl and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
When ready to bake, turn the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.
Roll the dough in between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll to about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick. Cut cookies out in the dough and place them on a parchment lined baing sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden.
Serve with the soup.

44 comments:

claypotclub said...

I never thought to make my own crackers. Also, the soup looks lovely. Some peas have purple flowers. I wonder if those are edible? It would give the dish some interesting color.

Averie said...

The soup looks wonderful! I love asparagus and I have never actually made asparagus soup.

The cracker recipe looks lovely as well!

And I've been seeing your book on various giveaways around the sphere...congrats, again, on it coming out!

Kate@katescakesandbakes said...

You're absolutely right-hand asparagus season is so limited you must take full advantage.. even if, as in my case, I end up having asparagus every single day in one form or another for a few short weeks!

Barbara said...

I have never seen pea shoots for sale here. Sounds interesting. I hope you are having fun with your parents. A cabin in the mountains sounds like a wonderful break.

CopyKat Recipes said...

This photo looks lovely. I love asparagus soup, but never thought about adding peas to it, what a wonderful way to enjoy spring.

Dolly said...

that looks so healthy and ohh so yummy for this cold weather..

:)

love the styling too!

Caroline @ Pink Basil said...

I love asparagus, but my husband isn't always the biggest fan. He loves peas though - do you think he might like it? Have you ever made this with roasted asparagus?

Love the photos :)

Kristin Nicholas said...

Lovely photos as usual. I am a sheep farmer and knitwear designer living in Massachusetts. I am loving your book and have recommended it to my readers as all the principles work beautifully for yarn and knitted project photography.
Have a great weekend with your parents and thank you!

caroline @ patagonia gifts said...

I have to try this! thanks for sharing. have a lovely weekend, darling! xo

ParisBreakfasts said...

Mon dieu!
So gorge!!!
I must review yr new book on PB soon
XX Carolg

AlinaBarber said...

This looks so vibrant and yummy!

jenna said...

i live for soup recipes! this spring soup looks amazing and so creamy. your herbed crackers are gorgeous!

london bakes said...

I love how simple this soup is. Sometimes the best meals are made from minimal ingredients. And beautiful photos as ever.

Sally said...

Dear Helene, I love the tradition of having a small bowl of soup before a meal. I think it adds something special and makes an everyday meal an occasion, but I don't think it is a common practice in American households. This soup, in its little bowl, entices us. I'm also crackers about crackers, and have been thinking about making some; your photos inspire me, as always.

keiko said...

so lovely Helene - hope you're having a wonderful time with your parents. x

Kristina said...

Hmmm, it look so tasty!

Bonbon Oiseau said...

OOooo helen! So pretty. I am going to try this tonight--the asparagus is so beautiful now and I also picked up some pea shoots too!
I just made a raw asparagus salad last night dressed with a light vinaigrette topped with shaved parmesan a la the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook. Je recommende lovely lady!!!

elizabeyta said...

I have been craving crackers recently and I may just have to give these a shot. Thanks so much!

sweetcarolinescooking.com said...

Mmm this looks fantastic! Gorgeous photos. :)

Morgan said...

Could you please tell me how long the crackers will last?

Thanks!

Eva said...

That soup does sound lovely, keeping the ingredient list simple with a soup is nice because you're able to really taste everything in it, without so many different tastes trying to overpower one another. I love the pea blossoms, they are so beautiful! I've never seen them used in a dish before, must try and find some round here. Farmer's markets :)

meg said...

love the gorgeous color of this soup. and i've never tried making homemade crackers - thanks for the great idea!

Gen said...

Quel délice les asperges! Surtout les vertes! J'ai justement une botte dans ma cuisine, je crois que je vais me laisser tenter par une soupe printanière!

Dana @TheSundaySweet said...

I love asparagus, especially when used in soup. It has the best taste and texture in my opinion. Beautiful post.

Sharon said...

It is so fun waiting for your new photos and yummy foods. The green of your soup is my favorite color. Today I posted a blog about your radish, brie, turkey sandwich. Also your fantastic book. I hope it brings many new readers to your blog and buyers to your book. Smile!

Sneh | Cook Republic said...

Beautiful soup and stunning pictures! I love making asparagus soup but have never thought of combining with pea. What a lovely idea! Thnx for sharing, the cracker recipe looks very inviting!

Little Sable said...

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emm said...

Beautiful post as always. I'm loving those crackers :-)Thank you.

Maurina said...

Wow... I am drooling now, looking at those wonderful pictures. I love different kind of soups.. and never thought of making one with asparagus. it's a brilliant idea. As asparagus is expensive in Jakarta, can I substitute with broccoli? or string bean?

And the cracker? what a good way to get use of the egg yolks left from baking macarons. Thank you Helene

Lisa {Authentic Suburban Gourmet } said...

What a perfectly delish soup for the Spring season. Love, love the homemade crackers. Stunning photo that make my mouth water. Enjoy the long holiday weekend!

Michelle Stiles said...

Oh I adore a simple soup of simple fresh pureed vegetables. This is a welcome addition to the Spring vegetable roundup.

Katherine said...

I am definitely in the everything is better with a poached egg camp! This soup looks absolutely amazing. The embodiment of spring.

Weekend Cowgirl said...

I love pea soup. I love asparagus. This ought to be the soup for me!

Cookin' Canuck said...

Count me into the "everything's better with a poached egg on top" camp. This soup is lovely, Helene - simple and beautiful.

marla said...

Can I tell you how excited I am to see you at evo this July? I am looking forward to a conference in the mountains. Hopefully this one is a bit smaller than others. This soup looks wonderful & I am with you and Dara - a poached egg on top makes everything better.

The InTolerant Chef said...

Great crackers, they sound fantastic, and the soup looks so lovely too.

Patricia Scarpin said...

I'm making soup for lunch today (roasted cauliflower, it's fall here) and now I want to try this asparagus pea soup too, Helen! Looks delicious, so fresh!
The crackers are amazing as well.

xx

ChichaJo said...

As your spring ends our summer ends, a whole new season...but for us it's the "rainy/wet" season (we only have two, wet and dry). But I totally agree with you about enjoying produce when in season, even if our seasons here are not as varied :) This soup sounds wonderful!

Kevin said...

I like how simple the recipe is and it looks great!

Laura said...

Helene,
amazon sent me a request to review books I recently ordered and since I am in love with your book I happily obliged. I can't thank you enough for your amazing book, I feel like you are right next to me talking about your photos, this is a great talent you have!

Mercî!

Heva said...

Lovely pictures today!

marilyn said...

Gosh this asparagus soup looks beautiful and definitely going to make the savoury crackers, thanks for such a great and fresh cooking site, marilyn from Down Under

Heike Herrling - but it tasted good! said...

This will make an absolutely perfect starter to dinner party I'm having next weekend - brilliant - thankyou!

Erin said...

Even though it's fall, I just made this soup. It was delicious! I can't wait to make it when asparagus is actually in season.

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