The delicious season begins in April and officially ends June 24, the feast day of John the Baptist (though you can usually get some after this date). Originally cultivated by the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks, asparagus been part of the German culture for decades, dating as far back as the 1500’s. Germans today are crazy over this vegetable – eating their way through tons of it (I’ve seen numbers between 70,000 to 138,000 tons) over a period of approximately 7 weeks.
There is really no wrong way, but based on all the years I lived and visited Germany, in my opinion the classic way (my favorite) is best: Al dente (cooked with a little sugar, butter and salt), served with clarified butter or Hollandaise sauce along with boiled new potatoes, a little bit of parsley (or chives) and ham.
The simpler the better. Let the asparagus shine!
This meal brings back so many fond memories – the last time I traveled with my Oma to where she grew up in northern Germany to our cruise stop in Hamburg when family picked us up to tour the city and enjoy a wonderful classical asparagus lunch to last year visiting with my Oma’s great niece when I learned how to make asparagus soup. Too much fun.
Care to make some of this deliciousness at home? Here are the recipes.
- 1 lb of asparagus per person (cleaned and peeled, trim ½” off the bottom)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar (or if you don’t want sugar replace with a tablespoon of lemon juice)
- 1 teaspoon butter
- Find a pan with a tight-fitting lid, either wide enough to take the asparagus lying down, or tall enough to have the asparagus standing up, with their heads out of the water but below the brim of the pot.
- Fill the pan with water halfway (if asparagus is lying down fill three-quarters of the way).
- Add the salt, sugar (or lemon juice), and butter and bring the water to a gentle boil.
- Place the peeled asparagus either lying down in the pan or standing up in an asparagus basket (it helps if you tie them into small bundles with kitchen twine) that fits inside a tall asparagus or spaghetti cooker. Turn down heat to a simmer. Put on the lid.
- Boil the asparagus 8 to 20 minutes or until desired tenderness (soft enough for your liking). Thicker stalks will take longer.
Remove from pan, drain somewhat and place on a preheated serving tray. Serve immediately with ham, melted butter, new, boiled potatoes and Hollandaise sauce.
- 2 lbs white asparagus (or more)
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp parsley or chives for garnish
- Remove the tough ends of the asparagus by snapping off the bottom ends. Put the peelings and the tough ends into a soup pot with 4 cups of water. Add salt and sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Drain, press through a sieve, return the cooking liquid to the pot and discarding the asparagus ends and peels.
- Cut the remaining spears into 2 inch pieces and add to cooking liquid in the pot. Simmer until asparagus is tender (5 – 15 minutes).
- Remove asparagus. Cut tips off and set aside. Put remaining asparagus into a blender with the lemon juice. Puree, adding cooking liquid as needed.
- Pour pureed asparagus through a sieve (to remove fibers) into cooking liquid in pot and bring to a simmer. Add cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return tips to soup.
- Serve, garnishing with chives or parsley.
Makes 4-6 servings.