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Easy Asparagus Soup for One: When You Love Everything Asparagus

April 30, 2016

Here’s yet another vegetable that I learned to love after I became an adult. I think I have written about how on the farm in the 50s, we consumed only the basics and mostly what we grew in our garden: green beans, corn, peas, carrots, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, lettuce, onions, turnips, potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes.

No lovely spinach, limas, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, peppers or asparagus. What a shame.

Once I left home, I have learned to love all these. For my family, all these were outliers. I’d barely heard of the even more exotic ones like avocado, kale, kohlrabi, and leeks, or the southern trio of okra, turnip greens, and collard greens.

I’m happy to have grown up on a farm but even happier to widen my taste pallet after growing up to enjoy most of these, along with what to me were many new grains. When my family moved to north Florida, I was soon introduced to the “southern trio” at my high school cafeteria; a year in eastern Kentucky with a Voluntary Service unit of slightly older young adults expanded my repertoire even more; college friends and living in Spain brought a host of new foods to my tongue and tummy. I think most of us like many more foods as adults than we did growing up.

And so asparagus. In my boarding house in Spain, for the main meal served around 1-2 p.m., we usually had three courses, including an appetizer of various wonderful soups or pastas. My roommates and I also often experimented with many packaged Knorr soups for our lighter evening “cena” or supper that could be made on our one burner camping propane “stove,” in our room. The asparagus soup had a delightful taste and small flakes of dried asparagus. We often stirred in one or more of Spain’s excellent cheeses.

When my youngest daughter lived at home for four years after college (and worked hard at a bank, no sloucher!) she wanted us to start an asparagus bed. It has never done well, but I have now read of ways I need to improve it, including using our own wood ashes and even Epsom salts. This was my main picking this year. A few days later I found two more spears and stashed them in my lunch bag with a small bag of shredded Parmesan cheese, thinking I would maybe make them into a small batch of soup in the office kitchen. I knew I had some butter in a container in the office refrigerator, and I could lean on the office supply of half and half cream (and make sure I volunteer to provide the next quart sometime soon!)

I thought it may be worth sharing here if you have only a little asparagus (perhaps that you found on a hunt!) or it’s the first spear of the season, or the last. Or if you’re the only one who loves this stuff in your family! I was pretty happy with the way it turned out using my quick grabs for whatever was convenient at home and then at the office.

AsparagusSoup1

Quick and basic asparagus soup for one (my invention)

2 long spears fresh asparagus, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 – 2 teaspoons water
1/2 cup of shredded fresh Parmesan cheese (not dried/grated)
1 tsp butter
1/4 cup half and half

In ramekin or other small bowl, boil asparagus pieces in water and butter for 1-2 minutes in microwave. Stir at 30 second intervals, and to gauge desired doneness.

Add half and half cream and Parmesan. Stir well. Cook 1 – 1 1/2 minutes more; stirring in 30 second intervals. Garnish with more Parmesan or parsley.

Makes 1 ramekin bowl. You can easily increase these quantities to serve 3 or 4.

The Parmesan cheese itself supplied a lot of flavor and “seasoning;” if I had been at home I might have added dried mustard, garlic flakes or seasoning salt.

AsparagusSoup2

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Simply in Season, Tenth Anniversary Edition

Mary Beth Lind has a much more complete recipe for asparagus soup in Simply in Season cookbook, available here. There she recommends using low fat milk and dried milk in the soup to increase nutrition and cut fat. Of course!

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What foods did you learn to like or adore as an adult? 

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I wonder now why our food and vegetable repertoire was so limited? I can understand not buying vegetables we didn’t or couldn’t raise (I don’t raise broccoli, for instance, too many worms and bugs). Ideas? Insights?

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From → Family Life, Food, Recipes

12 Comments
  1. I have memories of asparagus from school days. Our village had a small food processing plant, and students were allowed to come to school late because they were helping to harvest for a week or two in the spring.

    Mother served asparagus with butter but I have never cared for the taste.

    • I liked your small confession here–helps me understand my husband’s likes and dislikes. Your memory is intriguing, hearkening back to days when agriculture reigned over school schedules. 🙂 Thanks for your memory.

    • Athanasia permalink

      Just about everyone around here worked in the canning factories over the summer when I was growoing up , in some capacity or other. Lots of migrant workers came in also. De-tasseling corn was another time when teens and college age could make money.

  2. Athanasia permalink

    Kohlrabi is exotic?? Hahaha

    • Ok, Athanasia, the joke is on me. I should have used a different word for that one. It was strange to me, at any rate! Thanks for the laughter pealing upward. 🙂

      • Athanasia permalink

        Melodie, I still laugh every I think of exotic and kohlrabi being used in the same sentence. We love the stuff, slice it for dips or saute it in butter, add a little flour and milk for a side dish. Don’t buy it too big or let it grow over size though. The bigger the kohlrabi is not the better.

  3. Beverly Silver permalink

    I like the quantity! Am going to try it! Thanks.

  4. Elaine permalink

    Broccoli and zucchini came into my life at a much later date, but my mother loved cauliflower and limas so they were on our menu once in awhile during my childhood. She would grow Fordhook limas in the garden, so I remember all that picking and shelling!

    I had asparagus in a pastor friend’s home after we were married and I DIDN’T like it–too stringy. But…a few years ago my hubby cooked up a wonderful dish with asparagus that changed my mind. 🙂 He steams it, then sautes it with garlic topping it off with a poached egg. Hmm, hmm.

    Now living in KY I have grown okra and enjoy it fried or pickled, but I have not acquired a taste for various greens…and probably won’t. I do love the delicious southern dishes that are brought to our potlucks.

  5. It takes so many lima bean shells to get any amount for eating, eh?
    Well, asparagus can be stringy and overcooked and if not cooked within a day or so of being picked, not very good, I’ll admit. I like your husband’s method/recipe for sure–never tried it with the poached egg but I’m sure I would like that too.

    Okra was an acquired taste–I’ve never grown it, but if we go out to a southern buffet type place, I usually take some okra just for the memory. The greens that are cooked with ham hocks have enough salt in them to make them tasty–but alot of sodium, so I only use the canned variety several times a year because my husband does enjoy those for something different and vitamin packed.Thanks for checking in here again, Elaine.

  6. Athanasia permalink

    We all like asparagus and are eagerly watching our rows. I’m surprised being farmers you just didn’t automatically have a bed of asparagus. It is ubiquitous around here. It even grows wild along the train track. We leave that for the foragers. So, we probably don’t need the soup recipe, though I am sure others will.

    I usually only make asparagus soup over the colder months. I always same all my asparagus tips, you know the ones you snap or cut off. I package them up and use those for soup. Don’t need the stalks or tips anyways, unless you want it too look fancy with a tip or two on top of the bowl.

    Hmm, I like squash better…I always refused to eat it growing up. But we only usually had acorn etc. the common ones. Now we grow things like the delicata and those turban type and we just had a red kabocha (sp?) last summer and was that ever delicious. I like sweet potatoes better too now that I have had them in non sweet versions, more savory and spicy recipes instead.

    I don’t know why your family grew such a limited variety. We grew/grow everything and what we didn’t/don’t we bought or traded for. A few things we never grew until recently, like the past 25 years though was zucchini and the varieties of hot peppers. My grandma always used to pickle those green peppers, but things like habanera and jalapeno just weren’t in our garden then. And other than lettuces and spinach we did not grow the popular greens of today, like kale and chard when I was younger.

  7. I can hardly believe our limited vegetable growing (and consuming), also. Although I think all of us get in a rut, and tend to plant the same old things. We were certainly busy enough with what we had in the summer. Some gardeners and cooks are much more adventurous.

    I need to ask my mom whether her mom ever had an asparagus bed in Indiana. Around here in Va., very common.

    Thanks for all your reflections!!

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