There are a couple handy things that you need in a kitchen in order to produce the best results possible. Our top three kitchen tools begin with a good, sharp and well-balanced chef’s knife. We use this for 90 per cent of our everyday jobs, from chopping garlic to dicing vegetables and herbs to de-boning a whole chicken. Second, we need a good pair of tongs to turn food in the pan, the oven and the barbecue, and to artistically arrange our food on plates.
Finally, an over-looked item that we use so often is a fine, mesh strainer. This is used for many things, from the basics of skimming stock, to lifting vegetables out of boiling water, to draining yogurt to thicken it, and to correct the texture of soups and sauces. It struck me how important this tool was when making an asparagus soup the other day.
Asparagus is obviously at the peak of its season right now, and I’m sure many of you have steamed it, grilled it, used it in salads or just eaten it raw on the way home from the market. Asparagus has a tough ‘woody’ end that can be easily snapped off with your fingers. This tough end is difficult to eat if just steamed or grilled, but don’t throw them out!
At The Culinary Studio we saved about 12 cups’ worth of the woody ends over the past few weeks of using asparagus. We just put them into a container, and then popped them into the freezer. Then when we needed a quick soup (which was actually served chilled, in small ‘shot’ glasses as an hors d’ouevres) this is what we came up with. And the fine mesh strainer was definitely necessary. The soup is delicious either hot or cold.
In a soup pot melt butter and then add onion and celery; sweat until soft, but not browned;
Add asparagus ends and white wine; cook out wine for about 1 minute before adding cold water, just to cover the asparagus. Too much water will result in a watery soup. Add cream and bring to a boil;
Turn down to a simmer, and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, or until asparagus is tender; season well with salt and pepper; stir in vinegar;
In batches, blend in a blender. After each batch, pour contents of blender through a fine mesh strainer, using a ladle to push the contents through. Push firmly, and then discard the tough, stringy remains in the strainer;
Continue to blend and pass through strainer in batches until it is finished; taste now and again, and adjust by adding more salt and vinegar if necessary.
- 1 medium-sized cooking onion, thinly sliced
- 2 stalks celery
- 2 tbsp butter
- 10-12 loose cups of asparagus ends
- 1/2 cup of white wine
- Cold water, just to cover
- 1/2 cup 35% cream
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp (or, to taste) white wine vinegar