Roasted asparagus and oolong tea soup
In my family, we have two traditional recipes featuring asparagus: one is blanched asparagus topped with a fried sunny-side-up egg, a generous amount of butter and freshly grated parmesan cheese; the other is asparagus risotto, a rice-based dish. Somehow, I’ve never questioned my family cooking repertoire (and probably never will, my grandmothers were both outstanding in the kitchen and my mom can cook and bake divinely) and had no real motivation to expand it. Now, tea has become a creative challenge for me in a very positive way.
This recipe is simple but incredibly tasty. All the flavors complement each other beautifully. You can serve it as a sophisticated appetizer for a multi-course dinner or make a light lunch out of it. Enjoy!
2 lb asparagus
1 small handful kale, de-veined and stalks removed (I found the variety “Hungry Gap” at the farmers’ market and used that)
1 ½ cup water
2 tablespoons NUMI loose leaf Iron Goddess of Mercy Ti Kuan Yin oolong
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Trim asparagus. Discard the tough stem end and peel the lower section lightly with a vegetable peeler. Cut lengthwise in two halves if spears are thick. Arrange asparagus in an oven-safe dish, season with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 350 F for 30 minutes.
Brew the tea. You have two options. You can brew 2 tablespoons tea leaves in 1 ½ cup hot water (195-200 F) for 10 minutes. Or you can blanch the same amount of tea leaves for a few seconds and then cold brew them in 1 ½ cup room temperature water. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. Strain.
Reserve a few asparagus spears for garnishing. Blend roasted asparagus with tea and kale to the desired texture. I used an immersion blender. Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with reserved asparagus spears. Soup is delicious lukewarm or chilled too.
Disclaimer: tea sample provided by Numi. You can find their loose-leaf Iron Goddess of Mercy - Ti Kuan Yin oolong here.