The Month of...

18 May 2006

Asparagus – that’s what it is now here in the UK. It is available for just a few weeks and its appearance at markets is a sure sign that summer in on the way (I’m sorry if I sound over excited about the arrival of summer, but I really am :)) We can get asparagus that freshly picked on the day from local farm shops (or from a neighbour’s garden, if you’re lucky), I’ve been enjoying them grilled, roasted or simply steamed – but I went for a bit of a soup-y affair this time.
 


This is the simplest soup, yet full of flavour. Like other plain veg soups, fry onions in butter and cook asparagus with stock until tender, then puree in a processor and strain. I prefer not to add cream, though it’s up to you. Serve hot or cold, I like it cold as I think you can taste the flavour better.
 


Matthew is too fussy to eat meals without meat or fish (he’s the fussiest eater I’ve ever come across), so this is one with something extra. I used the recipe from here but have seen a few similar ‘salmon in broth’ recipes. I wanted to try it with sea trout for this as they are also in season, but no luck obtaining any this time. Another no-brainer to make – whisk up aioli (garlic mayonnaise) first, and as you grill the fish, cook the vegetables in stock. Serve in a broth of the cooking stock and add herbs (I used basil and fennel this time) as you wish.
 


This chilled veg version was for me and I found the recipe in Sally Clarke’s Book. Originally the recipe called for jellied broth – using meat stock gives a set jellied consomme but I decided to go with veg stock (hence no-set). To make the consomme, fry vegetables (I used carrot, onion, leek, celery and fennel) in butter, add herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley) and some peppercorns then cook in light bodied red wine and stock, until reduced by half. Strain through muslin and chill. After the consomme is ready, cook vegetables in salted water and when cool, toss with olive oil and herbs (I used chives and tarragon). Serve with fromage frais. I was a little sceptical about red wine consomme, but it was lovely and refreshing. I’d like to try with a meaty stock too.

I can’t wait for June when we get all the lovely berries and beans/peas, and the weather gets even better…
 

        30 comments    Permalink

  • Beautiful photo of the soup, Keiko (well, actually, all of the photos are gorgeous). So lucky you get to nip some asparagus from your neighbors!:)

    Posted by Anita | 19 May 2006 #
  • Hey,

    Love your site and well hope you would visit mine and tell me what you think!

    Posted by Jeremy Shapiro | 19 May 2006 #
  • Nice recipes, beautiful photos , everything perfect as usual !

    Posted by mercotte | 19 May 2006 #
  • I just read an article about Sally Clarke in Waitrose Illustrated. Your dishes look so lovely!

    Posted by Kat | 19 May 2006 #
  • I love asparagus. We are lucky enough to get hold of some British ones here, courtesy of M&S. I’ve never tried it as soup... thanks for inspiring me.

    Posted by mae | 19 May 2006 #
  • Keiko you’re amazing ! You just cannot help finding the best angle to shoot the products !

    Your pics are fantastic !! (woh)

    Fred

    Posted by Fred | 19 May 2006 #
  • beautiful colors, incredibly fresh looking! you are so lucky to be near local farms, i’m so envious!

    Posted by slurp! | 19 May 2006 #
  • YUM! Your pictures are gorgeous. I love asparagus too although it is one of those vegies that’s always associated with gas... LOL! ;-)

    Posted by steffles | 19 May 2006 #
  • Gorgeous Keiko! Both the photography and the food styling. I especially like the two white dots in the soup

    Posted by carin | 19 May 2006 #
  • What beautiful pictures! I am so impressed. Everything looks fantastic!

    Posted by Dianka | 19 May 2006 #
  • This is my first time to write. Keiko san, your photos and cookings are amazing! I has a zen touch and makes me hungry! Very inspiring!!

    Posted by juju | 20 May 2006 #
  • hi keiko, gorgeous post, as always - the pictures are veritable still lifes. the red wine consomme sounds very interesting - the mauve hue is super pretty too. re: the list - do have a think and let me know ;)

    Posted by Joycelyn | 20 May 2006 #
  • oh wow keiko... absolutely yummy cooking you’ve got there... i love asparagus too, they go so well with so many different dish... buying asparagus fresh here (in Dublin) is definitely a great thing, but trying to find white asparagus has been quite a challenge!

    Posted by Lil | 20 May 2006 #
  • ah keiko

    there ar many kind of asparagus here

    last week i bought the white ones and made cream soup

    the boys love it

    yesterday i bought the green thin types

    maybe risotto

    red wine consomme? better test that one sometime

    Posted by sha | 20 May 2006 #
  • What a coincidence, Keiko...I just had redish asparagus from Antibes region yesterday (bought them at the farmer’s market of course)...boiled them lightly and ate them crunchy with our mixed salad. Yum...they’re really good. Wish I have the motivation and time to do it the way you did...I always say..one day...one day...:-D Bon appetit!

    Posted by Maya | 20 May 2006 #
  • Hi there, thank you for all your kind notes.

    Anita - they can’t be any fresher than that :)

    Mercotte - I loved your asparagus dish too (of course)!

    Kat - I didn’t think you could get Food Illustrated in Osaka, that’s great!

    Mae - oh don’t buy at supermarkets if you can buy better ones at farmer’s markets. I was wondering, where does most of your food come from, France or UK?

    Steffles - I think I have spelt ’aspara-gas’ once (then the red underline thing on Word told me that it was wrong :))

    Joycelyn - will try to get back soon ;)

    Lil - I saw quite a few white ones in Paris, I don’t think we can get them locally here.

    Sha - I’d like to taste your cream soup one day :)

    Maya - sounds lovely, you must have so much wonderful produce there...

    Posted by keiko | 20 May 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko, i am deeply in love with the first picture. It looks amazing.

    I’m also very curious about the red wine consomme. I’m sure it is refreshing along with the chilled vegetables. Such a good idea!

    Posted by fanny | 20 May 2006 #
  • Gorgeous Keiko!

    I love asparagus, also loving the sound of the red wine consomme.

    Posted by Bron | 20 May 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko, wow! The pictures are just divine. I just bought some asparagus this morning and I quite fancied the idea of soup. YOu have inspired me.

    Posted by Valentina | 21 May 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko

    How do you manage to keep the salmon in one piece. When i would try this, it would fall apart...

    Looks lovely although i don’t eat aspergus.

    greetz

    Posted by Shanna | 21 May 2006 #
  • Keiko,

    My husband actually got the copy for me when he was on business in Australia :)

    Posted by Kat | 21 May 2006 #
  • Keiko, i have found some glorious and very delicious asparagus in the ’Genuine Jersey Market’ yesterday. The lady gave me a piece of the thin long ones to try. They were so crunchy and nutty. I definitely am going to her farm to get them from now on!

    There are a lot of local Jersey produce available here that used to be available only to Restaurants but now, most Farms are open to the public - so as you can see, i have plenty of places to now go and visit. Saturdays will be for that.

    Unfortunately buying local is not always possible but something i will definitely try as much as possible, as i work 5 days a week, and M&S is just 3 minutes from my work, i sometimes find it more convenient to stop there at times.

    You’ll be so proud of me for sourcing a Jersey prime beef locally farmed which i’ve just posted!

    Posted by mae | 22 May 2006 #
  • Keiko - I was at Bastille market in Paris yesterday morning, and saw all those fat white asparagus spears there. I was very keen to try them, but sadly had no space in my luggage. Now you make the local green ones look all so tempting, so I’m craving for the green ones again! (I did bring some wild asparagus back from Paris, will have to think how to make them now.)

    Posted by Pille | 22 May 2006 #
  • It must be asparagus week! Your salmon looks lovely and phooey on Matthew for being so fussy (especially when surrounded by all that gorgeous food.) I steamed my wild asparagus, btw, until tender, then simply dropped a knob of salted butter over it, let it melt, then dug in.

    Posted by David L | 22 May 2006 #
  • keiko-san 結婚してください! といつも思わず言ってしまいそうなおいしそうなお料理です。(立場も性別も超えて・笑) アスパラガスのスープ、私もクリーム、ちょぴっとぐらいが好みなので好みの味だなーと想像してます。 赤ワインのコンソメ、味わってみたいです。(経験ない味なのでした)きっと初夏にピッタリですね。 それにしても男の人ってどうして肉と魚がないとダメなんでしょうねー。(笑) うちも一緒です。ダイエットできません・・・(と、お菓子を食べながら思ってます)

    Posted by azu | 22 May 2006 #
  • Really gorgeous photos, as usual. Thanks Keiko

    Posted by bonheursdesophie | 23 May 2006 #
  • Asprerges semaine!!!

    :-)

    I love that’s shot, Keiko!!!

    And sound so good the recipe!

    ;-)

    Brava!

    Kisses...

    P.s.I made a terrine with asparagus & strawberry!!

    Posted by Sandra | 24 May 2006 #
  • Azu - you are next in the queue.. mate q^_^p she’s mine..

    The Salmon with Asparagus and Beans dish is plated beautifully. I cook a similar dish too but somehow it looks much messier unfortunately!

    I think I need to marry a Japanese lady one day - I’ll be happy enough if she possess just 20% of Keiko’s talent :)

    Posted by Omotesando | 25 May 2006 #
  • Hi there, thanks again for all your feedback.

    Fanny, Bron - the red wine consomme was lovely, but you may think it’s a little too plain if you’re a carnivore :)

    Valentina - looking forward to seeing your beautiful creations :)

    Shanna - oh it’s not difficult, just make sure that the pan/griddle is very hot and cook the skin side first until almost cooked and then just finish off on the other side.

    Kat - thanks for letting me know :)

    Mae - I’m glad you’ve started finding goodies in Jersey.

    Pille - looking forward to seeing your wild asparagus creation, it must be lovely!

    David - I’m drooling...

    Azu-san - 私の方がazuさんに嫁に来てほしいです(きっぱり)azuさんのだんな様も肉食なんですね、私も肉は好きですけど、美味しい野菜を食べる度に「もう肉はやめよう」って思います(でも豆腐のような根性しか持ち合わせていないのでやめられないっていうオチつきね…汗)あ、甘いものはやめられません、絶対に(笑)

    Sandra - your terrine looked absolutely beautiful!

    表参道 - I may not be as good as you think, also, I don’t think you know how good Azu is either :) I think you are supposed to eat the salmon dish messy :)

    Posted by keiko | 29 May 2006 #
  • Dear Keiko;

    I am so happy to have found this beautiful blog. It reawakens my love of cooking. I now have you bookmarked. Thanks for your efforts!!

    Cherie

    Posted by Cherie | 19 September 2007 #
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