Asparagus is in season, it’s pretty much the only time we eat asparagus all year, so we eat a lot of it. One of my favorite asparagus pairings is scallops, something about their sweetness that intertwines with the floral rush of asparagus. I remember exactly when I learned this. I was hanging out in The French Laundry in 1998, talking about cooking with the 23-year-old fish cook who was slicing truffles, Grant Achatz. The dish was his, new to the menu that day: one of Ingrid’s amazing scallops on asparagus sauce with truffles, the scallop topped by a disc of truffle and a small bundle of asparagus tips tied with a chive. I never tasted his dish, but I wrote about it (Grant’s recipe is in Soul of a Chef), and I’ve been making this simplified version of it ever since.
But it’s not only the pairing that I love about this preparation. It’s the all-purpose soup/sauce method that’s equally valuable. It’s very easy and if you have a fine mesh strainer it will attain an elegance that far exceeds the degree of difficulty, which is a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10. It’s that easy.
Blanch your asparagus in heavily salted water. Shock them in ice water when they’re tender, puree them in a blender with a little ice to get them moving, season with salt. If you want it to have a silken texture, strain it through fine mesh. When you reheat, whisk in some butter and season with lemon juice. You can do this with any green vegetable for a fantastic soup, so fresh and clean and vivid (second photo down on this post is pea soup using this method). We had a lot of asparagus so the above, photographed while I impatiently tapped my foot, hungry to eat, is really asparagus soup garnished with sautéed scallops and whole asparagus. Spring at last!