Spring has finally arrived in Maine, and with it golden-yellow dandelions carpeting fields of green, delicate pink blossoms decorating dogwood trees, and fat bumblebees buzzing lazily about daffodils. After many months of looking stripped, gray and stark, bare limbs are painted with colors saturated and brilliant. Spring always takes me by surprise. I catch it in the corners and hope that it’s real, and that it will last. Asparagus heralds the promise of the bright and sunny season. New life manifest and edible. If you’ve patiently waited, now is the time you are rewarded.
I really want to throw a party. A late morning party. With amazing food and copious drinks and inspiring conversation. I want to imbibe mint juleps and rhubarb sangria until the entire company is well past tipsy. We’ll sit outside in the overgrown garden and eat unfancy food from mismatched floral petal plates. I’ve made a menu plan, which I will outline below. A Spring brunch menu should be neither light nor heavy. Yuu never know when the weather will turn sour and you will want a comforting cup of soup or warming beverage while it rains.
First up, asapragus soup – nutty, creamy, fresh and exceedingly green. It is rich with butter and cream – you only need a taste. Roasting half the asparagus makes it extra wonderful.
Adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe
- 3 lbs asparagus, woody ends removed
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Step 1. Preheat the broiler and move an oven rack up to the top third of the oven. In a medium-size soup pot melt one tablespoon of butter. Arrange half the bunch of asparagus on a baking sheet, toss with melted butter, and broil for five minutes, until they just begin to wilt.
Step 2. Dice up the rest of the asparagus spears into pea-sized pieces. Melt the remaining butter in the pot, add leeks and saute until translucent, five to eight minutes. Stir in the flour until well combined with the buttery leeks. Continue stirring and pour in the chicken stock.
Step 3. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, three to five minutes. Add all of the asparagus to the simmering broth. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook uncovered, about five minutes.
Step 4. Blend. Either puree the soup in a blender in batches, or use an immersion blender right in the pot (removed from the heat source). When the soup is smooth, pour in the cream and slowly heat on low. Season with salt, black pepper and lemon juice. Serve immediately.