by Katherine Perry
Revered for its medicinal properties since Roman times, beloved in France, a favorite of Louis XIV, and known as the “Food of Kings,” asparagus serves the dual purpose of function and fashion in this recipe. American cooks held up French cuisine as a model of elegance and sophistication, and asparagus shows up in recipes of the era in loaves and omelets, hot or cold, drenched in cream sauces, tips snipped off for garnish, and, of course, made into soups. And it’s good for a convalescent after being rendered easy to digest by thorough—we might say excessive—cooking and straining. Of course, its tips are also the harbinger of spring and a welcome flavor for those who are sick of winter.
FROM COMFORTS FOR THE SICK
Boil 2 bunches asparagus in a little salted water, ½ hour. Rub through a sieve; add 1 quart of hot milk, 1 tablespoon each of butter and flour, salt and pepper. Boil 20 minutes.
If you’re not an invalid, I strongly suggest you liven up this subtle dish with a teaspoon of lemon zest, a tablespoon of tarragon or other fresh herbs, and, if you’re feeling really robust, a few tablespoons of cream. It may be easier to use an immersion blender before the sieve, or, if you prefer a thicker soup, skip the sieve altogether.