by Pippa Cuthbert and Lindsay Cameron Wilson
New Holland Publishers, Sydney, 2011
Cooking on page 32
Even though he behaved graciously, Poor John probably doesn’t want to recall the number of new and secondhand bookstores we visited. He has a Kindle now, so bookstores aren’t quite as appealing as they once were.
I think found this gem in the newsagent’s in Ceduna, South Australia. The cover picture (upper right) was enough to suck me in, but then I flipped through the book and found it was packed with yummy recipes. Even better, it was marked down to a very affordable and tempting $10.
How could I resist? And that’s what I keep telling myself and Poor John. Luckily he loves my creations from the kitchen.
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large leek, finely chopped
4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots (eschalots)
1 kilo (2lb 4oz) asparagus, chopped into 2cm (3/4-in) pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
600ml (18 fl oz) chicken stock
75ml (2 1/2fl oz) double cream
Optional to serve:
8 additional asparagus stems, for dipping
1 teaspoon olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and shallots and sauté until the leeks are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the asparagus, salt, pepper, cayenne and stock and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus is just tender, about 10 minutes. Purée the soup in batches, then strain through a sieve. Return to the pan, add the cream and heat gently. Taste for seasoning and serve.
To serve: Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Toss the additional (optional) asparagus in oil, place on a baking tray and roast for 6 minutes, or until just tender. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Set aside. While the asparagus is roasting and the soup is gently heating after being puréed, place the eggs in a saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil and boil gently for 2 1/2 minutes, then rinse quickly under cold water and shell. Serve the soup immediately with the eggs and roasted asparagus on the side.
How it played out
Made as written, although I didn’t bother about roasting the additional asparagus. Asparagus costs a bomb in Australia—especially in winter—so you overdo it only when it’s essential.
I kept a close eye on the eggs, but they got overdone. Nevertheless, it’s a lovely soup with a nice combination of flavours and textures.