She makes a soup that’s not orange! This week my veg box contained white asparagus and black salsify. Fancy right? White asparagus perhaps tastes a little more delicate than the usual green and is produced by restricting the light the plant gets. Poor little thing. Black salsify is a root vegetable, but you don’t eat the skin and although it starts off all gnarly, dirty and black, once you’ve peeled it off then the flesh underneath is as white as, um… asparagus?? The two have been compared in flavour, but although they’re similar they are different and complementary. I bet you’re thinking, “if I had something like white asparagus I’d gently pan-fry it and serve it by itself.” Normally I would agree to a pared down no-nonsense approach, but I didn’t get delicate little fingers of asparagus, I got giant fat thumbs of the stuff. And I’m no magician! So choppity-chop and in the soup they go. Salsify is supposed to taste like oysters, but that doesn’t mean it tastes fishy. Oysters don’t taste particularly fishy to me either – rather they taste fresh and slightly metallic (in my opinion). This soup ends up delicate but earthy. It’s lovely with hot buttered toast. Very comforting on a day when winter seems to have returned here. We were forecast snow flurries last night despite having already had the paddling pool out in the garden just a couple of weeks ago. I just have no idea what’s going on with this weather!
White asparagus and black salsify soup
Prep time 10 minutes Cook time 30 minutes Makes 3-4 (adult) servings
- 1 tbsp oil or 15g butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- bunch white asparagus, chopped into 1″ pieces (green would be fine – it’ll just change the final colour of the soup a bit)
- 4 large sticks black salsify, cleaned, peeled, chopped into 1″ pieces, submerging them as you go in bowl of cold water containing the juice of a lemon because it discolours really quickly. It will stain your hands yellow but this will scrub off with a nailbrush, or just wear food prep gloves
- 650ml stock, vegetable or light chicken
- 1-2 tsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- olive oil to drizzle
Heat the butter or oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and sweat the vegetables for 10 minutes over a low heat with the lid on. Add the stock, stir and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Check the veggies are soft with the tip of knife, and simmer some more if not done. Remove from the heat and blend until smooth with either a stick blender or a liquidizer, and return to the pan when done to reheat if necessary. Season well to taste and add the lemon juice. Serve in warmed bowls or mugs with a drizzle of olive oil.