Cream of Asparagus Soup

Cream of Asparagus Soup

The process of selecting the soup to be made at the weekend usually involves my making a unilateral decision on a Friday evening or a Saturday morning. On one occasion I decided on garlic broth because I had a lot of garlic in the fridge (see blog of 4th March) and last weekend I chose the chilled avocado and rocket soup because of the glorious weather. This week was unusual in that I let the spouse have the final say. I checked the inside cover of The Soup Book to see what vegetables are in season in June and asparagus caught my eye. I love asparagus, usually served with buttery Hollandaise sauce (the spouse's is pretty good). There are two recipes for asparagus soup in The Soup Book - cream of asparagus and asparagus and morel. The spouse said he lost interest at the mention of morels (did he think I was saying morals?), so cream of asparagus it was for today. The other ingredients include milk, nutmeg, egg yolks and cream; chopped parsley is the garnish.

Well, I've cooked the soup and three of us have had it for lunch (the older offspring is away on holiday). There was a lot of work involved in the preparation of this soup: trimming and peeling the asparagus, using the trimmings and peelings to make an asparagus stock, cooking the trimmed and chopped asparagus, reserving liquids, making a roux, and adding cream and egg yolks. At one point I was to add enough milk from the 300ml indicated in the ingredients list to the asparagus liquid to make up a litre, but I had barely 500ml of asparagus liquid. The final soup was, to my taste, rather bland and not worth the effort involved. That said, the spouse liked it and even the younger offspring thought it was all right. The note at the top of the recipe page suggests that fans of pureed soups could whizz the mixture in a blender at the end of cooking, before sieving and reheating it. This might make it a more flavoursome soup - if I ever make it again.

Bees and the Buzz

Each week I am surprised about how I come across references to bees and honey. My book group is reading Bill Bryson's book (there you are - three B's already!) At Home - A Short History of Private Life and during the week I came across this on page 191:

"The Americas, it may be said, gained much from Europe in return. Before the Europeans stormed into their lives, people in Central America had only five domesticated creatures - the turkey, duck, dog, bee and cochineal insect - and no dairy products."

Then on page 215 he refers to a type of building stone as the "honeyed blocks of Bath". There was also a mention of beeswax but I can't find the page now!

Earlier today I was listening to Miriam Meets ... on RTE Radio 1 and heard the poet John Montgomery quote a line about bees from a poem by William Wordsworth. I thought he said "the bees bummed" and I then had to use that fragment to track down the poem. Thanks to the internet, I can now quote correctly from Wordsworth's "The Female Vagrant" (published in 1798, in Lyrical Ballads). The speaker is recalling her father:

The staff I yet remember which upbore
/The bending body of my active sire;
/His seat beneath the honeyed sycamore
/When the bees hummed, and the chair by winter fire; ...

Finally, my colleague "Scarlett" (not her real name), whose birthday we were celebrating the night we had dinner with/in the vicinity of Dionne Warwick, Samuel L Jackson, etc (see blog of 13th February), pointed out an article in last Friday's Irish Times entitled There's a Buzz on the street for Joe and time to think of Heaven. The writer Michael Harding mentions a man called Buzz Nally who is a Joe Dolan impersonator but the piece is mainly about Grave Sunday and the Blessing of the Graves. Harding writes:

"Graveyards are lovely places, because people manicure them each year as Grave Sunday approaches. Strimmers and clippers buzz like bees, and there's a smell of freshly cut grass, as people get down on all fours ..."

While I was never exactly a fan of Joe Dolan's (I had nothing against him), I do have history with him! I met him twice, once in Bundoran, Co Donegal, in 2003 and then again in Tullamore in 2006. He was very charming on both occasions. When looking to buy a house in this suburb of Dublin, the first one the spouse and I viewed was originally owned by Joe. There are a few more connections of this sort, but I'll leave you to wonder!


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