All evidence to the contrary, today is the official First Day of Spring. In terms of the weather, this means absolutely nothing; however, in terms of food, it means we are entering the season of asparagus, one of our favorite vegetables.
Tony and I love this symbol of spring for its lush greenery, high nutritional value, and versatility. An easy way to prepare asparagus is to toss it in olive oil, salt and pepper, place it on a baking sheet and roast it in the oven at 350 degrees for about ten minutes. So simple, yet roasting intensifies its unique and pleasing flavor, and lessens its slightly bitter tone. But this is just one approach to this marvelous vegetable.
Last month I was lucky enough to spend ten days with my sister, Paula, and her adorable family of four at their home in Apple Valley, MN as they welcomed the arrival of baby Zoe Clementine.
A few weeks before her due date, Paula mentioned that she was craving Sarello’s Asparagus Bleu Cheese Soup, and asked if I could bring some with me when I came to visit. I assured her this was no problem, fully intending to ask Tony to put this soup on the schedule for that week so that I would arrive in good standing. Of course, after hanging up the phone, I promptly forgot all about Paula’s special request.
By the time I remembered, it was the night before my mother and I were to leave for our visit. Too late for Tony to come to my rescue, I realized that I would have to make the soup once I arrived at Paula’s house. While the recipe is not difficult, I am the baker of this family, not the chef. And, with the exception of Mama Mia’s Brodo, making soup does not fall within my usual domain.
But Tony assured me that my skills were up to the task, and with a new mama to please, I knew I had to give it my best effort. Once I got started, I was surprised by how easy this soup was to make. The only challenge I experienced was in making the blond roux, a mixture of butter and flour used to thicken the soup. I have to confess, with a chef as my husband, I’d never had to make a blond roux before.
My first attempt was a deep, rich, beautiful brown color, probably perfect for a gumbo but definitely not Asparagus Bleu Cheese Soup. I called Tony and he talked me through my next batch, and I realized that I had set the heat too high the first time. This time the roux came out perfectly, but if you’re uncertain of your skills, take a moment to watch Tony’s video demonstration this week and he’ll walk you through it, too.
Much to my surprise, my Asparagus Bleu Cheese Soup looked and tasted almost exactly like the soup we serve at Sarello’s. Beautifully golden-green in color, the texture was light and velvety smooth. The pungent creaminess of the bleu cheese partnered wonderfully with the bright, delicate, and overall green flavor of the asparagus.
Even from a distance, Tony came to my rescue and helped me satisfy my sister’s craving, and I enhanced my culinary repertoire in the process.