Nothing can beat home-grown asparagus and now is the time to be making the most of the slender green beauties. Try Philippa Davis' asparagus and almond soup
Asparagus and almond soup makes for a delicious lunch or light starter whatever the weather. Eat the asparagus part of the soup chilled on a warm spring day or serve hot when the weather turns and you need something comforting.
Don’t leave soup behind as the seasons change. Try our creamy crab, tomato and fennel soup when you are craving comfort food on a warmer day.
ASPARAGUS AND ALMOND SOUP
The beautiful, velvety asparagus part of this soup can be eaten hot or chilled.
For the almond soup
- 100g whole blanched almonds
- 1⁄2 garlic clove, peeled and finely crushed
- 1⁄4 tsp sherry vinegar
For the asparagus soup
- 700ml vegetable stock
- 450g asparagus, washed and snapped to separate tougher ends from the tender parts
- 1 small fennel, tough outer layer and core removed and the rest finely chopped
- 20g parsley (leaves and stalks)
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 2 eschalion shallots
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 ripe avocado, skinned and stone removed
- 1⁄4 lemon
- 2 tsp very good, extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.
To make asparagus and almond soup, on a flat tray first toast the almonds for eight minutes; they should not take on any colour.
Place in a food processor and blitz until very fine then add the crushed garlic and vinegar. With the machine still running, pour into it in a steady stream 130ml of cold water, season with salt, scoop into a jug and leave to one side.
Reserve one spear of raw asparagus. It needs to be thinly chopped for garnish.
Start by making a vegetable stock using a litre of water, the tough ends of the asparagus spears, the fennel offcuts, parsley stalks, peppercorns and one eschalion, peeled and roughly chopped. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes then strain through a sieve into a jug.
In a separate saucepan on a low heat sauté the finely chopped fennel and the other shallot, peeled and finely chopped, in the olive oil until softened and sweet (about 10 minutes). Pour in 700ml of the vegetable stock, then roughly chop and add the tender parts of the asparagus. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook for five minutes so the asparagus is just cooked then take off the heat, add the parsley leaves and avocado. Pour into a processor and blitz until very smooth. Check seasoning then chill if desired.
To serve the asparagus and almond soup, pour asparagus soup into a bowl, float on some almond soup, squeeze over a few drops of lemon juice, olive oil and sprinkle on some reserved raw asparagus.