Thursday, May 30, 2013

Potato with Wild Asparagus and Onion Soup

I have been loving spring in Nebraska because of the foraging opportunities. With warmer weather and spring rains come morel mushroom, wild asparagus and wild onion hunting. In a few more weeks, the wild flowers will be out, and in summer will come sweet berries. I have been learning loads, and I can't wait to show Rick when he gets here!

This soup I made is a variation of potato leek. Usually, I like to bake or grill asparagus in olive oil, salt and pepper. That's how I almost always have it. But for the blog, I wanted to try something different. 
I also had a bunch of wild onions in the fridge that needed to be used. With its mild, delicate flavor, wild onions make a great garnish for all kinds of dishes, including soup.
To the right is a photo of my friend Bekah. We were out on someone's property to examine some cedar trees. Bekah stopped the truck, we hopped out and she showed me what wild onions look like. So we dug a bunch up with what we had on hand... a small rusty saw and a deer antler-- it worked. 
It had just recently rained then and when I think on it, the most distinct things I can remember about that day was the faint, sweet odor of freshly picked wild onions, the feeling of moist dirt under my fingernails and the smell of spring rain all around me. Everything felt so alive. If I could sing, I would've broken into a Julie Andrews song. 

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30-35 minutes
Ingredients:
- 2 tbs. of butter
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 leek stalk, white and light green parts chopped and washed thoroughly
- about 6-7 red potatoes (or an equal amount of russets), peeled and diced
- about 15 wild asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch pieces 
- 2 cups of chicken stock
- 1 tbs. of chopped wild onions
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, snipped (just a pinch for dry)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- grated parmesan cheese, to taste
- hot sauce (optional)


1. In a medium pot, cook garlic and leeks in butter. Cover and cook over low for 10 minutes. Stir often and do not brown the leeks. During the last 5 minutes, add the asparagus. 

Next, add potatoes and chicken stock. Then add enough water to submerge all veggies and then some. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.
Here's an Instagram photo of the asparagus I found a couple weeks ago along the roadside. If you know where to look, they're everywhere up here in Northeast Nebraska. They like moist, damp places like roadside ditches and along crop fences. 

They can be hard to spot, but look for the yellow, dead mature asparagus plant that stands out. At the base of these dead mature plants might be some green asparagus ready for eating, like in the photo. 
2. When cooked, take off heat. With a stick blender, blend veggies until smooth. If using a standard blender, blend in batches. Then mix in snipped thyme, wild onion, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. 

Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with extra parmesan cheese, wild onion and hot sauce (optional). 

Wild onions like to grow in damp places. They have small, purple/pink flowers at the top and a tiny white bulb at the bottom, similar to scallions. However, they are a lot smaller compared to scallions, more like the size of chives really. Just peel off the brown, burlap-like skin off the bulbs before you use them. 

There is a toxic plant that looks similar to wild onions. An easy way to tell them apart is by simply tearing off a piece and smelling it. If it smells like onion, then you have the right kind for eating. 
All of the plant is edible, even the flowers. The flowers make pretty garnishes. 


2 comments:

  1. Saw this little nugget of information in a plant book:
    The Cheyenne name for wild onion was kha-a-mot-ot-ke-wat, translating to "skunk testes" - a reference to size, shape, and the strong scent!

    ReplyDelete

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