asparagus and herb soup

i have not felt great for the past week. my stomach has been playing up in quite a major way, which has put me off food a little. still eating, of course (i think when i stop eating you can safely pronounce me dead) but not really hungry. i'm not even enjoying pottering around the kitchen.

the only bit of pottering i did was to make stock from two chicken carcasses and some giblets i had in the freezer (it was like a vegetarian's nightmare, that stuff). i let it simmer for ages and the stock came out beautifully flavoured - properly meaty and savoury. i'd also saved some veggie scraps from dinners made during the week so i had a few green parts of leek, woody bits of asparagus, celery, onions, carrots and herbs for flavouring.

we had a bunch of asparagus past its prime in the fridge. it's towards the end of the season so the spears are getting a bit straggly and woody. i'd never thought of making an asparagus soup before but couldn't see any reason why it shouldn't taste good.

this is a mark hix recipe heavily adapted. he suggests serving the chilled - which sounds nice if you can stop yourself from eating it hot.

it's quite a thin soup so if you want it to be thicker, use less stock or, if you eat them, add a potato at the same time you add the asparagus. i saved the tips to be included whole but there's no real reason for doing so beyond the fact that i like having something to chew on in a soup - a change of texture is always good. i am sure you could vary the herbs to suit your taste - a bit of basil would have been nice, i think. and for a real treat, you could poach an egg in it for the final couple of minutes - now that would be nice.

for 2

1 bunch of asparagus past its best, cut into pieces, with top of each spear reserved
4 spring onions, white parts only, sliced
1 stick celery, finely chopped
500ml good chicken stock
small bunch of parsley, chopped
a few leaves of mint, coriander and thyme, chopped
a few celery leaves, chopped
olive oil

heat oil in a pan and sweat the spring onions and the celery for a few minutes. add the asparagus pieces and continue cooking for a little while, then add the stock. bring to the boil, season, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

turn the heat off and leave to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a blender together with the chopped herbs, and liquidise until smooth. return to the pan, add the reserved asparagus spears and cook for 2-3 minutes more but no longer, or the herbs won't taste of anything.


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