Asparagus and Wild Mushroom Soup

This soup should taste fresh so try not to cook the asparagus too long. Asparagus and wild mushrooms are not in season simultaneously although they are both widely available, so this soup will never have a feeling of being traditional. The two ingredients marry together well, however, and we cannot be blamed for the inadequacies of our ancestors’ supply and distribution networks.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (450 g) asparagus
  • ½ oz (15 g) dried morel mushrooms
  • 1 small leek
  • groundnut oil
  • 8 oz (225 g) chicken winglets

To Complete

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 fl oz (25 ml) double cream
  • a little lemon juice

Method

The vegetables

  1. Peel the asparagus from just below the tip down to the base, and keep the peelings. Cut off and discard the bases of the stems, which are woody and often have mould spores which taint the soup. Slice the stems into ¼ in (6 mm) pieces, and keep the tips intact because they look nice in the soup.
  2. Soak the dried morels for an hour in cold water, then cut them in half lengthwise and wash out any grit.
  3. Trim, top and tail the leek. Cut into ½ in (1 cm) lengths and wash well.

The soup

  1. Use a saucepan with a heavy base that you can fry and boil in. Heat it and add a few drops of the groundnut oil, then put in the chicken winglets and leek. Let these brown, moving them about the pot regularly so that they don’t stick. Pour in 2½ pints (1.5 litres) of cold water.
  2. Bring this to the boil, and drop in the asparagus tips and morels. Let them boil for 2 minutes and then take them out with a slotted spoon. Run a little cold water on the asparagus to arrest the cooking and preserve the colour. Put the asparagus tips and morels aside until later.
  3. Let the broth simmer for 20 minutes, then add the sliced asparagus stems and peelings. Do not let them boil for more than 2 minutes or the fresh asparagus flavour will be lost, and you might as well have used tinned.
  4. Remove from the heat and decant into a container. Pick the chicken meat from the bones. Liquidise with the broth and the asparagus trimmings.

To Complete

    All the preceding work can be done in advance. Once you have moved from this point you must serve the soup, and it can only be reheated if you are very, very careful.

  1. Toss the blanched asparagus tips and morels in a few drops of groundnut oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Mix the egg yolk and cream in a cup or bowl and pour in a little soup. Mix together to form a liaison. If necessary, reheat the soup, pour the liaison into it and stir well. Turn off the heat.
  3. Season with salt until it tastes right. Add a squeeze of lemon. Strain into bowls and float the morels and asparagus tips on top of each bowl.