Asparagus and new potato soup

Original source: Morning Star (UK)

OK, asparagus is expensive, but it's also highly seasonal, so why not treat yourself once a year to this delicious vegetable?

If the answer is unprintable in a family newspaper and involves the effects of the recession, I apologise and hope things get better for you, but I really believe that asparagus is something that everyone should have the chance to enjoy from time to time.

While I was living in Huddersfield about three decades ago, I was told by a neighbour the tragic fact that asparagus had been popular between the wars as an ornamental garden plant, but no-one had realised you could eat it.

People living on spuds as a result of the last great capitalist lunacy were missing out simply because no-one had told them that the stuff was not only edible but highly nutritious and very, very good to eat.

The war sorted that out, apparently, as the government started to take a sudden interest in working people not starving to death.

Asparagus has more folic acid than any other vegetable and so it's particularly beneficial to eat it if you're pregnant or thinking you might be in the near future. It's also a good source of potassium, dietary fibre and a number of B vitamins.

It's great served with the Hollandaise sauce alternative I offered a few weeks ago (Morning Star April 3) or try this soup. With good bread, it's a satisfying but quite low-calorie meal. You will need a food processor or blender to make it. Ingredients

30g/1oz butter 2 small spring onions or one large, chopped Half tsp dried thyme or 1tsp fresh (fresh is better) 450g/1lb asparagus, tips removed and set aside, stalks roughly chopped small glass white wine 55cl/1 pint light stock, warmed 1 tbsp milk salt and freshly ground black pepper 200g new potatoes, steamed or boiled and cut into bite-sized pieces 1 small bunch fresh chives, chopped What to do

Heat the butter in a heavy pan, without letting it brown. Add the spring onions and the thyme and cook gently for two minutes.

Add the chopped asparagus stalks, cook for a further minute.

Now add the white wine, bring the mixture to the boil and cook rapidly until about half of the liquid has boiled away.

Now add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the asparagus is tender, but not sloppy. This will take at least five minutes and no more than seven to eight minutes, until the asparagus is just tender.

Remove from the heat, leave it for one minute to cool, then liquidise in food processor or blender, adding the milk.

Return to the pan and add the pre-cooked potatoes and the asparagus tips. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for two minutes.

Serve it decorated with the chives and accompanied by the rest of the wine and the best bread you can afford.