A clever recipe from Tom Kitchin's Kitchin Suppers making the best of the short homegrown asparagus season. I love the twist of adding shredded chicken wings and ricotta as a topping which both poshes it up and makes it more substantial.
Tom writes: "I treasure asparagus during its short six-week season in late spring/early summer as it’s the only time I eat it; the flavour of imported asparagus is so inferior by comparison. If you have an asparagus farm nearby you may be able to buy ‘soup asparagus’, which is cheaper because the spears aren’t perfectly shaped, but are just as flavourful. You can serve the soup hot or cold. Shaved raw asparagus and crispy chicken with ricotta and chives give a lovely contrasting finish.
800g asparagus spears
olive oil for cooking
1 white onion, peeled and sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
450ml homemade chicken stock
50g baby spinach leaves
Chicken and ricotta garnish
12 chicken wings
olive oil for cooking
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon chopped chives
4 asparagus spears, trimmed
extra virgin olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper
To prepare the asparagus for the soup, snap off the woody ends of the spears and peel the lower end of the stalks. Finely chop the asparagus. Heat a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the onion, season with a little salt and sweat gently for 2–3 minutes to soften. Meanwhile, bring the chicken stock to the boil in another pan.
Add the asparagus to the onion and sweat together over a high heat for 1–2 minutes. Pour in enough of the hot stock to just cover the asparagus. Simmer for 5–6 minutes until the asparagus is just cooked, adding a little more stock to keep it covered if needed. Add the spinach and cook very briefly until it just wilts.
Tip the soup into a blender and blitz until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Unless serving hot straight away, transfer to a bowl and cool quickly over another bowl of ice to preserve the lovely vivid green colour, then cover and refrigerate.
Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. For the garnish, put the chicken wings into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and the caraway seeds. Heat a large non-stick ovenproof frying pan over a medium-high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the chicken wings and colour for 3–4 minutes on each side. Transfer the pan to the oven for 8–10 minutes until the wings are cooked through. Set aside to cool slightly.
Once cooled, pull the meat from the bone. Tear into strips and put into a bowl with the ricotta and chives. Mix together and season with salt and pepper to taste.
When ready to serve, trim the 4 raw asparagus spears (as above), then cut lengthways into fine slices, using a sharp knife. Rub with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. If serving the soup hot, reheat it gently.
Divide the soup between bowls and top each portion with a generous spoonful of the ricotta mixture and the raw asparagus slices. Top the ricotta with a sprinkling of cracked pepper and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil around the soup.
What to drink: not the easiest dish to match with wine. I think I'd probably go for an Albarino or a young, unoaked Austrian Grüner Veltliner but a Sancerre should work well too.
Recipe from: Kitchin Suppers by Tom Kitchin (Quadrille, £20). Photograph: Laura Edwards. Another recipe I'm tempted to cook from the book is the smoked salmon and spinach lasagne though it's Tom's wife Michaela's rather than Tom's.
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