Using Excess Asparagus

Reader Contribution by Carole Coates
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Have a glut of asparagus? Me neither. In fact, I can’t imagine ever having too much asparagus. Now a couple of empty-nesters, my husband and I have expanded our asparagus bed not once, but twice. That’s how much we love the stuff.

We usually harvest a decent-sized helping for each of us every day or two. When we find ourselves with more than a day’s worth, we freeze the extra in meal-sized batches. Frozen is as tasty as fresh, and the green taste of springtime in the depths of winter can’t help but brighten the spirits.

Freezing Excess Asparagus

Asparagus is quick and easy to freeze. The National Center for Home Food Preservation says to heat one gallon of water for each pound of vegetable. Once the water is boiling vigorously, add well-washed asparagus stalks and cover, keeping temperature high. Begin the countdown as soon as the water returns to a boil. (If you use the right proportions, that should be in a minute or less). Thin spears only need two minutes of blanching time; medium, three; and thick, four.

(You can heat the asparagus in a wire basket inside a larger pot to make quick removal easier, especially if you plan to reuse the water for more batches. However, for a small batch, it’s easy enough to lift the veggies out of the water and into a colander using tongs.)

Quickly transfer asparagus to an ice-water bath to stop the cooking process. Let it cool in the ice water for at least as long as the blanching time.

Remove vegetable to a flat, dry, clean kitchen towel and pat dry. Store in the freezer in airtight freezer containers.

Check out this site for more information.

Cream of Asparagus Soup Recipe

This year, we’ve had an especially generous crop of our favorite early spring vegetable and have found ourselves with as much as two pounds in one picking—too much for the heartiest asparagus eater. We decided to make soup—our first ever homemade cream of asparagus soup. We were not disappointed. Here’s my recipe. Note:

Although this is the recipe I use, measurements do not need to be precise.

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper
1 pound of asparagus, tough ends removed
3 cups vegetable broth (have an extra cup on hand in case you want to thin soup later)
½ teaspoon fresh or reconstituted lemon juice, or to taste
Heavy cream, crème fraîche, or sour cream

Directions

1. Cut well-washed asparagus spears into one-half inch pieces.

2. In large pot, melt butter over low heat, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about five minutes.

3. Add garlic, salt, and pepper, cooking for another minute.

4. Add cut asparagus and cook on medium-low heat while stirring for five minutes.

5. Pour three cups broth into mixture and simmer, covered, for fifteen minutes or until tender.

6. Remove pot from heat; using an immersion blender, blend mixture until smooth. (Alternatively, use a blender, but be careful with hot liquids in blenders. Keep blender safely covered and add only small amounts of soup at a time.)

7. If soup has cooled, reheat. At this point, you can thin the soup if you prefer by adding more broth.

8. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice. Taste to determine if additional juice, salt, or pepper is needed.

9. Ladle soup into individual bowls. Add a dollop of sour cream or a couple of tablespoons cream or crème fraîche to each bowl, or to taste.

My prize-winning cornbread recipe is a perfect accompaniment. Check it out here

Notes:

Grated Parmesan cheese is another excellent topper for this soup.

You can make this soup ahead and chill, covered, for up to two days, reserving lemon juice until reheated.

This soup also keeps well frozen. Just don’t add lemon juice and cream until after you thaw and reheat. Or thaw frozen spears to make soup from scratch in the off season.

Carole Coates is a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, modern homesteader. You can follow her Mother Earth News blog posts here. You can also find Carole at Living On the Diagonal where she shares her take on life, including modern homesteading, food preparation and preservation, and travel as well random thoughts and reflections, personal essays, poetry, and photography.


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