This is the fourth recipe from my SPRING SOUP series.
Apart from the green trees and flowers blooming all around in springtime, everyone in Belgium excitedly looks forward to another favorite – the white asparagus. It starts in April when they come out and take over market stalls, supermarket shelves, restaurant tables, and kitchens. While white asparagus is only available for a couple of weeks, everybody wouldn’t stop raving about it. You’d notice that many Belgian restaurants create special asparagus menus, all the way from appetizers to main, and even to desserts!
Known as wit goud (white gold) because it’s expensive and coveted, superb asparagus has a delicate flavor, slightly nutty and bitter with a sweet aftertaste. It is usually boiled and served with a sauce, and sometimes it becomes into a soup or blends to other dishes.
The Belgians have Asperges vlaamse wijze or asperges flamande; Flemish-style asparagus that’s one of the simplest dishes, yet all Belgians adore. It’s cooked asparagus topped with diced hard-boiled egg, clarified butter and fresh parsley. I haven’t actually made one for myself yet, though I’ve enjoyed it several times over dinner with my in-laws. Where else is best?
But of course, I wouldn’t skip any chance to make a soup out of asparagus. Topped even with poached egg, asparagus soup is amongst my top favorites.
- 800 g asparagus, woody ends removed
- olive oil
- 2 medium white onions, peeled and chopped
- 2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped
- 2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
- 2 litres organic chicken or vegetable stock
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 10 small free-range eggs
- 1 knob butter
- extra virgin olive oil
- Chop the tips off your asparagus and put these to one side for later. Roughly chop the asparagus stalks.
- Get a large, deep pan on the heat and add a good lug of olive oil.
- Gently fry the onions, celery and leeks for around 10 minutes, until soft and sweet, without colouring.
- Add the chopped asparagus stalks and stock and simmer for 20 minutes with a lid on. Remove from the heat and blitz with a hand-held blender or in a liquidizer.
- Season the soup bit by bit (this is important) with salt and pepper until just right.
- Put the soup back on the heat, stir in the asparagus tips, bring back to the boil and simmer for a few more minutes until the tips have softened.
- Get a wide casserole-type pan on the heat with 8 to 10cm of boiling water. Using really fresh eggs, quickly crack all 10 into the water. Don't worry about poaching so many at the same time. They don't have to look perfect. A couple of minutes and they'll be done, as you want them to be a bit runny. Using a slotted spoon, remove all the poached eggs to a plate and add a knob of butter to them.
- To serve, divide the soup between eight warmed bowls and place a piece of toast into each. Put a poached egg on top, cut into it to make it runny, season and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver.
WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
Have you had wit goud before? Do you like it? What are other dishes you can make with white asparagus?