Asparagus Soup and Arancini

Image of asparagus spears

If you have a glut of asparagus in the garden (lucky you) or you’ve had a splurge at the farmers’ market, this is a lovely summery soup to make.

In fact as Jane Grigson pointed out in her Vegetable Book you can make it with the asparagus trimmings left over from another recipe, the water you cooked the asparagus in and just three or four whole stalks. It really depends on how much you have to hand.

My version of the soup is rather more extravagant because with a whopping great asparagus bed in the garden I can afford to be profligate. Lucky me.

Arancini are little crispy balls of leftover risotto, fried in a crunchy coating. Delicious and a great way to make a small helping of leftover risotto go a long way. Both soup and arancini make good starters (though not together) or a light lunch.

Asparagus Soup

Image of a large picking of asparagus

Ingredients for the soup:

Around 20 fat spears of asparagus

100g chopped onion

1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped

60g butter

1 heaped tbsp flour

1/2 litre vegetable stock (see below)

Salt, pepper, chopped parsley

A swirl of cream to garnish

 

For the stock:

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 sticks of celery, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

The woody parts of the asparagus stems

The stalks from the parsley

A glass of white wine

6-8 black peppercorns

A fresh bay leaf, torn to release the aroma

Water to cover

Method:

First make the stock. Put the chopped vegetables in a large pan with the herbs and peppercorns, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer until it tastes suitably asparagus-y. Mine took around 40 minutes at a bare simmer. Strain and set aside the stock, discarding the vegetables.

Soften the onions and garlic in the butter in a covered pan.

Image of chopped asparagus

Cut the asparagus into 2cm lengths. You can steam the tips separately if you would like to use them as a garnish – or just chuck it all in.

Stir the flour into the buttery onions, then add the vegetable stock along with the chopped asparagus and cook until the maximum flavour has been extracted. It doesn’t matter if the asparagus goes limp, you’ll be pureeing it.

Image of asparagus cooking in the stock

When it tastes strongly asparagus-y, puree it in a blender then put it through a sieve to extract any stringy bits.

Season with salt to taste and a little pepper and add more stock if necessary to get the desired consistency. Mine came out creamy and velvety, so much so that I scrapped plans to make this a cream of asparagus soup.  You can freeze the soup at this point if you wish.

When you want to eat it, put it a pan, heat to just below boiling and stir through the parsley. Garnish with a swirl of cream and a few asparagus tips, if using.

Image of asparagus soup swirled with cream

This is also excellent as a chilled soup, but you may need to thin it down a little and increase the quantities of salt and pepper.

Arancini

  • Servings: depends on how much risotto you have left over
  • Print

Image of cooked arancini

I used the leftovers from a recent Spring Vegetable Risotto but these are excellent with mushroom risotto too. In an ideal world you would wrap the filling round a small nugget of mozzarella cheese, giving you a gooey, melting centre when cooked, but you can make them without.

I rolled the arancini in Japanese panko breadcrumbs, which are particularly light and crunchy, but home-made breadcrumbs work too.Those weird orange ones you get in tubs? Avoid.

Image of a pack of panko breadcrumbs

Ingredients:

Leftover risotto

1 egg

Breadcrumbs

More grated parmesan, salt and pepper if necessary

Oil for frying

Method:

Mix the leftover risotto with the beaten egg and a few breadcrumbs if necessary to get a mixture which is gooey enough to hold together but firm enough not to fall apart. Add more grated Parmesan and salt and pepper if required to get a good flavour.

Roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls, then put more breadcrumbs on a flat plate and roll the arancini in them to coat.

Image of arancini frying

Put an inch or so of oil in a deep frying pan and fry the arancini all over until golden. Drain on kitchen paper and allow to cool slightly but eat warm. They’re good as a snack or as a starter, especially with a dressed green salad on the side.

 

10 thoughts on “Asparagus Soup and Arancini

  1. Yum all round. I have tried making arancini twice, once with spicy squash risotto, adding blue cheese, and once with mushroom risotto, adding mozzarella, but weirdly both times they were really bland. Maybe it’s because I oven-baked them instead of frying? No asparagus bed here but found the first British stuff in the shops today 🙂

    • Yes, I found I had to put lots more parmesan and seasoning into the arancini, even though the original risotto was fine.
      Just about to try harissa-marinated asparagus from fab new cookbook – watch this space.

    • Hmmn, I did think about that but I didn’t want the arancini to go soggy. The nicest bit about them is biting through the crunchy coating to the soft middle. Maybe you eat faster than me! (Hardly possible.)

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