During our short but eagerly awaited asparagus season I eat the juicy green spears as often as I can, usually boiled, sometimes griddled and often with soft-boiled eggs and folds of prosciutto and/or slivers of Parmesan. I rarely bother with an actual dressing, just adding a swirl of syrupy balsamico and another of my best olive oil. This is a desert island lunch. I usually prepare the spears with the snap method I once saw Jamie Oliver use; simply snap each spear towards the growing end and it will automatically break at the point where it ceases to be tender. I put those woody snaps in the boiling water I will be cooking the spears in and simmer them for a few minutes first, hoping they impart flavour. I find it difficult to chuck them out and have started saving them and their cooking water and turning them into soup. The first time I did it, I happened to have a few leftover new potatoes and some peas, so added them to the bowl of my super, super-efficient liquidizer – a magimix – running the soup programme several times to ensure the fibrous ends were rendered smooth. If they remain woody, pass the soup through a sieve. I’ve done this; it’s not ideal because you lose a lot of the viscosity. I make this soup every time I cook asparagus, saving sufficient snaps and the cooking water – from at least 2 bundles – and it is amazing how good this asparagus soup is. No cream, no milk, no stock, just what might usually be chucked out. Do try it. It is necessarily an idea more than an exact recipe, but the soup should end up thick, pale green and voluptuous with a creamy, smooth texture and strong asparagus flavour. It is particularly good with a light dusting of cayenne pepper and a separately soft-poached egg slipped in just before serving.
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 15 min
trimmings from a generous bunch asparagus (at least 10 spears)
approx 400ml asparagus cooking water
3-4 leftover Jersey Royal or other new potatoes
150g leftover boiled petits pois
Drop the snapped trimmings into the water (approx 500ml) you plan to cook the asparagus in – I always use a wide-based (sauté) pan – and simmer (adding pinch salt) until tender (about 8 minutes) then add the asparagus and boil in the usual way (about 4 minutes). Lift out the spears, leaving the trimmings. Add leftover (or boiled) new potatoes (scraped) and peas (I sometimes cook peas specially) then liquidize. My magimix liquidizer has a soup setting, so I run it several times for maximum smoothness. Reheat and season to taste with salt and lemon juice. Serve with a dusting of cayenne and a separately soft-poached egg if liked.