Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver is a perfect cookbook to peruse in the spring just as you may be planning your garden or beginning to haunt the farmer's markets for seasonal produce.
This book is designed around the seasons, giving an outline for what is available when, tips on how to grow the fruits and vegetables, and delicious and creative recipes to use the produce.
Here's what the contents of the book looks like:
SPRING: asparagus, eggs, lamb, rhubarb
SUMMER: barbecue, cabbage family, carrots and beets, climbing beans, zucchini, onions, peas and fava beans, pizza, potatoes, strawberries, summer salads, tomatoes
AUTUMN: chillies and peppers, feathered game, furred game, mushrooms, orchard fruit, pickles
WINTER: leeks, pastry, squash, winter salads, winter veg
As with all of Jamie's books, there are plenty of gorgeous pictures.
I tried Jamie's Creamy Asparagus Soup and it made a lovely lunch, complete with a salad and some homemade bread. We ate the leftovers the next day and agreed that the soup tasted even better after sitting overnight.
CREAMY ASPARAGUS SOUP
(adapted from Jamie at Home)
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1 3/4 pounds asparagus, woody ends removed
2 medium white onions, peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped
2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
2 quarts good-quality chicken or vegetable stock
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
cream for serving (optional)
Chop the tips off your asparagus and put these to one side for later. Roughly chop the asparagus stalks. Get a large, deep pan on the heat and add a good glug of olive oil. Gently fry the onions, celery and leeks for around 10 minutes, until soft and sweet, without coloring. Add the chopped asparagus stalks and stock and simmer for 20 minutes with a lid on. Remove from the heat and blitz with a handheld immersion blender or in a standard blender. Season the soup bit by bit (this is important) with salt and pepper until just right. Put the soup back on the heat, stir in the asparagus tips, bring back to the boil and simmer for a few more minutes until the tips have softened.
Note: I dribbled a little cream over the top before serving. If you like really creamy soup, you could stir in 1/2-1 cup of cream before dishing the soup out.