I’ve collected many cookbooks over the years, but one of my favorite’s remains Eating Royally by Darren McGrady. Mr. McGrady was a private chef to Princess Diana after starting out as a junior chef at Buckingham Palace. I love his cookbook because it is much more than just recipes, it tells stories of life at the palaces of the royal family, including both the lives of the palace cooks and the royal family themselves. I can tell you the Queen’s favorite foods, and what Prince William and Prince Harry liked to eat as children because of this cookbook. I have a love of history, but more so when it’s on a personal story level.
One of my favorite Spring vegetables is asparagus. I’ve been making this soup ever since I found it in Eating Royally, and I love it! I never really do much with asparagus besides steam it, otherwise, so this immediately caught my attention. I have made it many times since, and think it’s great for rainy Spring days.
Asparagus Soup with Dill Oil - Adapted from Eating Royally
For the soup:
2 pounds asparagus
1 stick unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth
salt and freshly ground pepper
For the Dill Oil:
1/2 cups chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper
Cut the flowered tops off of the asparagus, about an inch long and set aside. Chop the remaining asparagus into 1/2-to 1 inch pieces, discarding the bottom two inches.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a 4 quart pot. Add the onions and asparagus and saute until the onion is translucent and the asparagus begins to soften. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the asparagus is soft.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Blanch the asparagus tips for 1 minute, drain and run under cold water. The tips will be bright green and still crunchy, giving a great texture to the finished soup.
Once the asparagus is fully cooked, puree the soup well using a hand blender or traditional blender. Pass the soup through a mesh strainer into a clean saucepan, pressing down with a large spoon to achieve a perfectly smooth texture. At this point you can refrigerate the soup until the next day or continue.
For the dill oil, put the dill, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth and bright green in color. Taste and adjust the seasonings if the flavor is too bland.
Reheat the soup over low heat, don’t allow it to come to a boil. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the asparagus tips, drizzling the dill oil over the top. Enjoy while pretending you are royalty!