I am a bit surprised that I've been quite so off my game since my mother died on the fifth. Naturally, I'm upset, but I've been so damned inefficient and goofy, too. I have been deeply grieved before, but, I guess not so surprised- time to prepare makes a huge difference. In any case, I've been muddled, and going with the flow by not challenging myself too much. So you see, it isn't that I have stopped cooking-I cook for comfort, and it works. But I'm cooking familiar things, nothing I haven't already posted about before. And anyhow, when I start to write things down, I get all tangled up.
This is the first remotely new thing I've made for a while, and it was a success. It is yet another asparagus soup- an adaptation of a Deborah Madison recipe. It is a bit special, both because it is entirely vegetarian and because it is a rather different take on a popular sort of thing, coming nicely (to me) at the end of a season of asparagus indulgence. I think it is makes excellent first course to a meal of diversely asian flavors, though I have also been enjoying on its own, for lunch. Deborah Madison is very good at getting complex layers of flavor in meatless soups; I've learned a lot from her techniques.
This is what you need:
2 lbs asparagus
2 bunches scallions
handful of cilantro
a bay leaf
a handful of parsley
a peeled medium potato, sliced very thinly
butter- 1/4 stick
toasted sesame seeds
asian-style sesame oil
sea salt and pepper
Cut the tips off the aparagus and set aside. Snap the bottoms off the asparagus, and put them in a soup pot. Cut the greens from the scallions, and the stems from the cilantro, and put thestems and greens in the pot as well. Add the thyme, parsley and bay leaf, and a quart and a half of water, plus salt and pepper. Bring this stock to a boil, and then turn to a bold simmer- for about half an hour. Finely chop the cilantro leaves, and set aside.
Meanwhile, chop the white part of the scallions and the middles of the asparagus, into pieces about half an inch long, and put them in another soup pot with the potato, butter, salt and pepper. Cook these gently in the butter until they begin to soften. Turn off the pot, and let it sit. In a small pan, cook the asparagus tips in a bit of salted water about 4-5 minutes. Cool them by running cold tap water over them; drain and save.
When the broth is ready, pour it through a strainer over the buttery veg, and discard the solids from the broth. Bring the soup and veg to a boil, then simmer another 15 minutes. Wash out your first soup pot, and place a fine strainer or chinois over it. When the soup is done, puree it thoroughly, preferably with an immersion blender. Then, pour it through the chinois into the clean pot. Add the cooked asparagus tips, and heat until desired temp. As you serve each bowl, stir in a few drops of the oil, and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and a few sesame seeds.Pass a wedge of lime to squirt on top.
My sesame seeds sunk inexplicably-perhaps as a result of carrying the soup onto the porch to take its photo. If I have been scatty and left something out...listed an ingredient and failed to mention adding it, or the like, I would not be at all surprised. Please let me know if I have. I apparently did not actually leave anything out, as the soup was pretty good.