Asparagus Soup with Rocket Pesto

Asparagus Soup with Rocket Pesto ©KevinAshton 2015
Asparagus Soup with Rocket Pesto ©KevinAshton 2015

St .George’s Day (England’s patron saint) marks the beginning of the all too brief British Asparagus season,(23rd April until 21st June).   These dates also mark the beginning and end of the Asparagus Festival, which has all kind of events from a food and drinks festival in Droitwich Spa, treasure hunt in the vale of Evesham, brass bands playing, Morris dancing and even more cooking demonstrations!

Why do we celebrate the Asparagus harvest so much? Well come and taste and find out for yourself.  It always amazes me when I see people buying Asparagus that was grown on the other side of the world in the supermarkets rather drive to a local farm where it was picked in the morning.

Asparagus Soup with Rocket Pesto 4 portions

600 grams Asparagus spears

1 litre Chicken or Vegetable stock

100g finely dice Onion

50g Butter

50g plain Flour

8 rashers smoked streaky bacon

12 cocktail sticks

Double cream for garnish (optional)

  1. Trim the woody 2 inches (5cm) off the bottom of all the asparagus spears and cut the trimmings into small pieces and reserve.
  2. select 12 thin straight spears and wrap each one with half a rasher of bacon wrapping it as tightly as possible and pinning it in place with a cocktail stick.  This is your garnish so you can refrigerate until later.
  3. Now select 8 spears and trim until they are only 2.5 inches (6.5cm) in length (save trimmings). Now carefully cut each spear lengthwise in two, blanch in boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes cool down fast and reserve but don’t refrigerate.
  4. Melt the butter and add your onion and cooked on a medium heat without colour for 3-4 minutes stirring frequently.
  5. Add the asparagus trimmings to saucepan, the flour and stir for a minute then slowly begin to add the stock a little at a time remembering to stir often to avoid lumps.
  6. When all the stock is added turn the heat lower and simmer gently  (30 minutes) stirring from time to time.
  7. Use a food processor to puree the soup and the strain through a strong fine sieve, making to push the soup through so you only end up throwing out the stringy pulp.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and allow to cool until your pesto and asparagus garnish is ready.

Rocket Pesto

30gram Rocket leaves (Arugula)

70gram Pistachio nuts (roasted and shelled)

30gram Parmesan cheese (fresh grated)

75ml Extra Virgin Olive oil

25ml Cold water

  1. In a food processor/liquidiser cut up the rocket leaves, then add the pistachio nuts.
  2. Grind them until they are fine and then add the parmesan cheese.
  3. Slowly add all the olive oil until the mix is smooth, then slowly add the water to thin the pesto a little.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.

Finishing the soup Heat a non-stick frying-pan to a medium temperature, add a little olive oil then begin to cook the asparagus spears wrapped in bacon. Cut up the remaining 2 rashers of bacon into small pieces and fry those too. The asparagus spears need turning often so the bacon can cook and brown, but not burn the asparagus in the process. Cook the bacon bits until they are crisp. Remove the cocktail sticks from the garnish.

Serving the soup Spoon a teaspoon of  the pesto into 4 warm soup cups. Ladle in the soup and the gently divide the asparagus that you cut lengthwise between the 4 cups. Next sprinkle on the crispy bacon and serve the asparagus wrapped with bacon on the side. Drizzle a tiny drop of cream on each soup if you wish.

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