Have you ever heard about a vegetable which is being treated like a member of the royal family? Well, if not you should come to Germany during asparagus season. It starts at some point in spring and ends exactly on June 24th. Yes, that’s right. We don’t get to eat asparagus all year long. At least not if we want locally grown asparagus. And most people do want that. Which is really funnyconsidering the fact that usually people don’t care about seasons or seasonal availability. People eat tomatoes in winter and apples in spring. They can buy them all year long. Because there’s always a hothouse somewhere in Spain or the Netherlands bursting with cheap tomatoes or a plane from South Africa full with grapes and apples. Nobody cares. But when it comes to asparagus people do care. Here in Germany it’s as unwritten but very important law that asparagus plants need enough time to grow before the first frost is expected. And therefore St. John’s Eve is supposed to be the last day of asparagus season. After that day the plant is left alone to grow back and nobody eats asparagus until the start of the next season.
Because we have these seasonal limits, people take asparagus very seriously. You will find this vegetable on every restaurant menu and in every canteen all over Germany once the seasons starts. The funny thing is, asparagus dishes are usually very boring and not particularly vegetarian or vegan friendly. Because traditionally vegetables are not such a big thing in German cusine, it seems that people have no idea what to do when then want to center a whole dish around a vegetable. So all they can think of is to serve it with potatoes, melted butter and a chunk of meat. Or they drain it in Hollandaise sauce. And because German asparagus is usually white, those dishes look even more boring than they sound. And that is probably the reason why I never really liked asparagus. “Hey, we have fresh asparagus! Do you mind eating it with plain potatoes?” Well, yes. Sorry, I do mind.
This changed when I discovered green asparagus. A couple of years ago Spanish, Italian, and Greek green asparagus stalks invaded the supermarkets and kicked the white king from his throne. And suddenly I ate asparagus every second day. Green asparagus seemed easier to handle (you don’t have to peel the whole stalk) and there isn’t this whole myth surrounding it. You can really eat it like you want and throw it into every salad, stir fry, or soup ou can think of. Some people must have shared my thoughts. Because these days you can visit any of the little booths that pop up during asparagus season and they will have locally grown green asparagus. One of them is conveniently placed close to the main station where I have to change to pick up the kid every day. It’s like my second home now.
This simple soup requires almost no time and no preparation work. You can eat it both hot and chilled. And even though F. insisted (again) that she was not willing to eat asparagus, this soup changed her mind.
Simple Asparagus and Pea Soup (serves 2-3)
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
400 g (14.1 oz) green asparagus, chopped
200 g (7 oz.) frozen green peas
720 ml (3 cups) vegetable broth
60 ml (1/4 cup) coconut cream scooped from a can of coconut milk
10 g (1/4 cup) chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large pot. Add onion and fry for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and fry for 1-2 more minutes.
Place asparagus, peas and broth in the pot and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Add coconut cream and stir until dissolved. Place in a blender together with basil and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve hot or chilled.