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DigiBites: A Soupy Respite From Downerville – From Chef Charlie’s Kitchen To Yours

The Epicurean Exchange

Greetings News24/680 news followers:
Nothing can soften the shock of our global situation except maybe a bowl of warm, nutritious soup. This is a variation I developed to use the best of the spring season and incorporate a healthy fat – coconut milk – and antioxidant-rich curry (which contains turmeric) and other healthful elements in the spices.

Chef Charlie

It is the beginning of the California asparagus season and the first of the Salinas / Central Coast and Delta asparagus is arriving in the markets. Up to now, the asparagus has been coming from Mexico and other Latin American countries or grown in hot houses. California’s peak asparagus season is March through May and then there is another short season from September through mid-October. Asparagus is one vegetable I encourage everyone to anticipate and enjoy abundantly when it finally arrives locally. Most of the asparagus found in the markets is conventionally grown and is available for around $1.99 per pound – (Safeway has it currently for $1.29 per pound). Whole Foods has organic asparagus available for $5.99 per pound.

Photo: The Epicurean Exchange

As the season has just begun, the prices will continue to adjust – organic will be more reasonable as the season progresses. Keep in mind that according to the Environmental Working Group, asparagus is one of the vegetables least commonly contaminated with pesticide residues, so its your choice whether you select the organic option.

Asparagus is especially popular because of its tremendous versatility. Its mild flavor complements interesting spice and herb combinations; its unique shape leads itself well to a variety of cooking techniques:  steamed, blanched, roasted, grilled, sautéed; and it works great in all types of applications and presentations including soups, salads, side and egg dishes.

Remember, when buying asparagus, choose firm, bright green stalks with tight tips. Tips that are opening or flowering indicate age and should be avoided. Also, upscale markets typically display asparagus with the stalks placed in chilled water or crushed ice to preserve freshness. Asparagus is best prepared the day it is purchased, but will keep for 2 – 3 days properly refrigerated. Nutritionally, asparagus is a good source of folate (folic acid), vitamins B and C, beta-carotene and some vitamin A. It contains the phytochemical glutathione which has antioxidant and anticarceninogenic properties.

Pro Tip: Notice the asparagus on the left. The tips are tight and closed (these are fresh). The bunches in the middle, the tip are loose and sprouting (these are older). Choose the fresh.

Wishing you all health and safety wherever you are.
Not traveling anytime soon, so you will probably hear a lot from me in the coming weeks. Let me know what you would like from me; happy to create for you all.
– Chef Charlie

Spring Asparagus Soup with Curry and Coconut

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium leek (white to light-green part only, about 5-inches inches) cleaned and minced into 1/4-inch pieces

2 tablespoons curry powder (or more to taste)

1 tablespoon ground ginger

Zest of one lemon

3 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 cups)

1 pound medium-sized asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces (reserve 1 1/2-inch tips for garnish)

3 cups chicken stock

1 cup coconut milk (reserve 1/4 cup cream for garnish)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste

•  Melt the butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced leek and sauté, without browning, until soft, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the curry powder, ground ginger, and lemon zest over the leeks, and sauté for 2 minutes longer until fragrant.

•  Add the potatoes, asparagus pieces, chicken broth, and coconut milk. Stir to combine. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

•  Meanwhile, prepare the garnish: cut the asparagus tips in half lengthwise, and sauté in a small skillet in a bit of olive oil until just soft, about 2 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

• When potatoes are done, purée the soup in batches in a blender until smooth and transfer to a large bowl. After all the soup has been puréed, return to the soup pot and warm over medium heat.  Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

•  Stir in the lemon juice, to taste (should be slightly tart) add more if necessary. Serve soup garnished with a swirl of reserved coconut cream and sautéed asparagus tips.

Serves 4

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  1. Definitely a soup day but going with the sweet onion and cider recipe posted by the chef not long ago…. unbelievable, scored some good Gruyere and a baguette so the decision was clear…. thanks for your posts!!!

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