Spring is in the air, the bulbs are blooming and the spring vegetables are right around the corner. Asparagus is one of my favorite things to eat in season. When you pick fresh asparagus it is sweet and fragrant, the stalks are not woody, and the flavor is indicative of spring. On Martha's Vineyard we are fortunate to have several sources for fresh asparagus. When asparagus is in season you must get to local farms early as this delectable treat sells out in a matter of hours. Any ingredient can become tired if you eat it the same way over and over again. I have tried to think a little outside the box to create a different expression of one of my favorite vegetables. Miso soup is traditionally made with Dashi a soup stock made with seaweed and dried Bonito. This version of Miso soup is purely vegetarian.
Here is my version of a miso soup with an asparagus broth, shaved asparagus and shiitake mushrooms.
-2 bunches fresh asparagus
-Cut about two inches from the bottom of each stalk of asparagus, set aside.
-Lay asparagus stalks flat on the cutting board. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the asparagus lengthwise from the bottom to the tip. Try not to apply too much pressure, the goal is to create thin long ribbons.
-Set aside your ribbons for later
-1/4lb shiitake mushrooms
-2 tbsp butter
-Remove the stems from the mushrooms, and keep for stock. Hold them in your non dominant hand and gently draw a knife against the base of the stem. If you have not done this you will be surprised how little pressure it takes. (watch your thumbs)
-Place mushroom caps gill side up in a large lightly oiled skillet. sauté for 1 minute add salt and pepper then flip
-Cook for 1 more minute then add butter
-Place place pan into a 350 degree oven as the butter melts
-Cook for 5-10 minutes then set aside
-Asparagus stems and scraps
-2-3 small onions, skin on (quartered)
-4 carrots (roughly chopped)
-8 stalks of celery (roughly chopped)
-4 inch piece of ginger (roughly chopped)
-1 whole clove of garlic (halved in the middle)
-2 Clementine oranges (quartered skin on)
-3 tbsp salt
-Combine all ingredients into a large stock pot
-Fill the stock pot with water and bring to a boil
-Reduce heat to a simmer for one hour
-Strain the broth into a separate container
-Miso 1 tbsp per cup of broth
- Place a hearty handful of your asparagus ribbons in the bottom of a serving bowl(s)
-Pour 1 cup per serving of your stock into a large saucepan
-Bring to a boil
-Place miso into a fine strainer
-Submerge the strainer into the liquid and push it with a spoon into your soup
-At this point it is ready to be served, you don't want the miso to sit on the stove
-Pour your miso broth over the asparagus ribbons and top with your shiitake mushrooms
This is an absolutely delicious way to eat asparagus, albeit time consuming. I assure you it's worth the wait. hope everyone enjoys!