So last week, I told you about how I have fallen in love with my basic vegetable broth. It really is all about what you do with it. The other day, I made this amazing asparagus soup, which I discovered in Deborah Madison’s, book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. One of the things I appreciated about this recipe was that it allowed me to use the entire stalk of asparagus. Given that asparagus is not one of your lesser expensive vegetable, being able to use the whole spear, but maintaining the integrity of each part at the same time was a blessing.
Like so many, I used to hate asparagus. This was in part for two reasons. either my mother would buy canned asparagus; that is all I am going to say or that she would cook it until the bottom part of the asparagus was soft, which meant the rest was ready for asparagus heaven. However, to add a touch to my basic vegetable broth, I added the bottom part of the asparagus while I was making the broth. Not wanting to throw anything away that might contribute some flavor to my broth, I also threw in chopped up leek greens and roots. This allowed my broth to absorb the asparagus flavor without anyone having to eat the woodier part of the asparagus and even every part of the leeks I used in the soup itself was awesome.
While my broth was simmering, I cut off the tips, set them aside, and was left with the stalks. This is what I used to make the soup. Don’t worry the tips were not wasted.
While the soup was amazing, what preparing this soup taught me was that everything has a purpose. It made me think about how often in my cooking, I have thrown the roots, the scrapings, or the “unusable” parts of vegetables away. In doing so, I realized I was missing the gifts they had to offer.
As I thought about this, I came to realize that so often in our lives we do the same with people. We focus on the segments of society that seem “usable” or “valuable” and throw away those segments that have been deemed as “unusable,” “woody,” or the dregs of society. However, what are we missing by not seeking the gifts they have to bring to the world. Then I found myself thinking back to a sermon I heard Rev Kenney from Virginia preach when I was thinking about going to seminary. He said the problem with the church today is that we have forgotten how to treasure hunt. We are more then happy to use the services of those who volunteer, but those who are shy, insecure, don’t feel as if they have anything to offer, or have been made to feel as if they have nothing to offer, we ignore. As I was breaking off the woody parts of my stems, I was reminded of a Christian scripture that says what you do to the least of thee, you do to me.
Suddenly, this simple Springtime Asparagus Soup was giving birth to new understandings about my relationship with the ingredients and my relationship with people. It might be the end of fall where I live, but there was some new growth in my spirit as I made this soup. Enjoy!
Springtime Asparagus Soup
Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
1 ½ pounds asparagus
1 large leek white part plus an inch of the greens (I used the rest in the stock)
6 cups basic vegetable stock
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 small onion chopped
2 tablespoons raw rice
Salt and freshly milled pepper
Lemon juice to taste
Heat the oil in a stockpot. Add the leek, onion, and rice and sauté over medium heat for about 8 minutes until the onion is slightly colored. Add 1 cup stock and stew for 10 to 12 minutes. Add the chopped asparagus and the remaining stock and simmer partially covered for 12-15 minutes. Cool briefly, the puree and pass through a food mill to get rid of any fibers. Taste the soup for salt, add a few drops of lemon juice to bring up the flavors and season with pepper. Return the pot to the stove to keep it warm.
Meanwhile, drop the asparagus tips into boiling salted water and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Then add to the finished soup.