Can I hear a ‘woop woop’ for all of my asparagus fans out there?
I wait every year, with bated breath, for Ontario asparagus season because I love it that much.
Like rhubarb, asparagus reminds me that great weather is on its way and winter is behind us (at least for a little while).
The wonderful people over at Williams Sonoma sent me these beautiful Apilco lions head bowls and the prettiest spring Palamore tablecloth and asked me if I could create a beautiful spring recipe to showcase them.
So, thinking about soup and asparagus, I created this super fresh soup using asparagus and peas (plus a touch of mint!)
And, the icing on the cake (or the topping on the soup) are the ricotta and smashed mint-scented pea crostini (I used my amazing Goldtouch baking sheet to make the crostini…seriously the best pan I’ve ever had!!).
The smashed minted pea mixture is seriously epic! It makes more that you’ll need for the soup but you should keep it (lasts a few weeks in the fridge) and serve it on your next charcuterie board with some fresh veggies!!
After the asparagus, peas, onions (I used red onions because they are sweeter!!) and broth come to a boil, leave them for a bit to ensure they are tender enough to puree.
This soup, topped with the crostini, is such an incredible dish for spring – especially when you can pick up fresh peas and asparagus at your local farmers market!!
Doesn’t this look so pretty in these bowls??
I just love the colours in this tablecloth…the colours are so vibrant!!!
I also though I would give you guys a few tips on getting a ‘creamy’ feeling in your soups without actually putting cream in your soup:
- If you have a soup that has vegetables (especially lots of leafy greens), you can add a boiled potato. Once it is pureed, it will seem ‘creamier’!
- Make a roux or a slurry. When you want a creaminess, adding a slurry (in a glass, add about 3 tbsp liquid – water is fine – along with 1 tbsp flour, mixing together well), makes anything creamy…it’s like the lazy man’s way of making a roux (which is a process of cooking butter and flour together to create a thickener!!)
- When you want the taste of cream, add a few tablespoons of sour cream. You can also add the same amount of plain yogurt but you may taste the tanginess of the yogurt – especially if your soup is simple in taste.
- Even just pureeing your soup, once it is cooked, can transform your soup into a creamy, delicious soup. This works best with beans, legumes or vegetable soups. To do this, use slightly less broth or liquid than you normally would.
- Finally, you can soak unroasted cashews and blend them with some broth and add the soup mixture…it’s truly a game changer!!
So, it is spring (finally!!) and you all really need to try this soup…it will make you so happy!!
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cups fresh peas (you can sub in frozen peas)
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped mint
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- 1 baguette, sliced into 1/2-inch thick slices
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion , chopped (I used red because I like the added sweetness)
- 2 lbs asparagus (2 bunches, tough ends snapped off), rinsed
- 1 litre reduced sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup fresh peas (you can use frozen)
- 2 tbsp ricotta
- kosher salt and fresh pepper (to taste)
- For the smashed crostini mixture: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the water and red pepper flakes and heat until the water boils. Add the peas (2 cups) and cook until the peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the peas and place the peas in a food processor with the mint, salt, and pepper. Puree the pea mixture. Place the pea puree in a medium bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes.
- To begin the soup: In a large soup pot, add 1 tbsp oil and heat over low heat. Cook onion until softened.
- Cut asparagus into bite sized pieces and add to the pot (reserving a few tips to top the soup if you wish) along with chicken broth and peas. Bring to a boil, cover and cook low about 20 minutes or until asparagus and peas are very tender.
- Remove from heat, add ricotta and using your hand held blender, puree until smooth; season to taste (you can also use a stand-up blender but you will need to puree the mixture in two batches).
- Season to taste.
- Meanwhile, to finish the crostini: Preheat the oven to 375° degrees F. Place the baguette slices on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in the oven until toasted and golden around the edges, about 10 minutes. While the crostini are still warm, drizzle the tops with extra-virgin olive oil. Holding a whole clove of garlic in your fingertips, rub the top of the crostini a few times to give a hint of garlic. To finish, top each of the crostini with about 1 tablespoon of the ricotta and about 1 tbsp pea puree.
- Add one crostini to each bowl.
- Serve immediately!