A Slice of Organic Life – A Is For April…And Asparagus

a slice of organic life bookLonger daylight hours, warm rainy days, bits of green poking out of the hard ground…it’s finally Springtime, yo. With Spring comes all sorts of in-season produce. Off the top of your head, do you know what produce is fresh and available each month? Some of us have a slight idea: berries in the summer and squash in the fall. Educating  yourself on peak season foods will not only allow you  to eat in-season, but will broaden your culinary menus!

If you are not careful, fresh fruits and veggies can quickly eat up a grocery budget. Typically, the items that are in-season will be much lower in cost than other produce along with being “fresher.” When doing your menu planning, try to find recipes that revolve around these items – you’ll benefit both in quality and in the pocketbook.

Think about it for a second. If you are buying strawberries in December, and they really aren’t in season until July or August, are they REALLY fresh? Um..no. First of all, because they are being shipped probably from far away (depending on where you live), they have to be picked prematurely. Then, they will most likely have to be force ripened so they appear to be nice and red when they get to you. (red on the outside, white in the middle, right?) To top it off, you are probably paying way too much for poor quality fruit. “A strawberry eaten in the winter never tastes quite as good as one eaten in the summer,” says Goldsmith of A Slice of Organic Life.

So, let’s take a look at what will be in season for the month of April. This, of course, is not all inclusive but can give you a good start.

April

  • Peak Season: Artichokes, Asparagus, Rhubarb, Spring Peasphoto(97-2)
  • In Season: Beets, Broccoli, Cabbages, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Fennel, Lettuce, Spring/Green Onions, Radishes
  • Fruits: Bananas, Grapefruit, Haas Avocados, Mangoes, Pineapple
  • Season Ending: Lemons, Navel Oranges, Green Garlic, Fresh Spinach, Kale, Leeks, Shallots

Also, beginning in May, many areas will start hosting outdoor Farmer’s Markets. These are wonderful places to go each week to get great local produce for even greater prices! The more local you buy, the cheaper the items will be AND you are helping the environment by not needing the use of truck shipping. Don’t forget your green bags when you go!

Right now, asparagus is lining the produce aisles at the grocery stores (and more southern markets)…and, it’s CHEAP! I’ve already made this great soup for my family and plan on pickling/canning some for the rest of the year. Enjoy!

Cream of Asparagus Soup
Author: 
Serves: 4-6
 
A great way to use fresh, seasonal asparagus!
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. Asparagus spears, fresh
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 1 t. Butter
  • 3 c. Chicken Stock (preferably home made)
  • 1 medium Potato, peeled & diced or shredded
  • 1 stalk Celery, chopped
  • 1 sprig Thyme or 1 t. dried
  • 1 c. Cream or Milk (Cream = thicker, Milk = thinner - I used ½ milk, ½ half and half to lessen calories)
  • Salt to taste
  • White Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Rinse Asparagus. Remove top 1 inch of each spear, discard tough lower part, reserving middle portion of stalks. In 3 quart saucepan over medium heat, saute onion in butter for 3 to 5 minutes or until translucent. Add chicken stock, asparagus tips and stems, potato, celery, thyme and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 12 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Remove asparagus tips and set aside. Place half of the soup at a time in a blender. Cover and blend at high speed for 20 to 30 seconds or until very smooth (or use a stick blender, which is what I use.) Pass soup through a fine sieve to remove fine "splinters." (You can skip this step but you'll have those in your soup.) Return blended soup to saucepan. Add reserved asparagus tips and cream. Heat thoroughly, but do not boil or cream will break. Or, refrigerate if soup is being served cold. Salt & pepper after cream is added and adjust to taste.
  3. Can also be topped with cheese, bacon, curry or a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.

 

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