Friday, May 22, 2009

Wild asparagus

It took 2 hours but I managed to gather a pound and a half of wild asparagus. Euell Gibbons had it exactly right when he described it as "stalking" the wild asparagus. Harvesting this delectable spring vegetable consists mostly of walking . . . and . . . walking . . . and, yes, walking!

A neighbor led me around her 700-acre ranch to show me how to look for tall brown stalks of last year's asparagus, then push aside grass and weeds to look for the new stalks peeking up. She's also new to hunting for asparagus, but she found lots, and we picked and picked. Once we realized it was growing mostly along the fence, the rest was pretty easy, although the walking continued since only a few stalks grow in any one spot.

Although the season is only about a month (early May to early June), this is a great way to eat real Montana food. If you can see it growing out of the ground, well, for sure it's grown in Montana! Not only is it free, but you get plenty of exercise.

I had enough asparagus when I got home to make about a quart of a kind of cream of asparagus soup, composed of asparagus, potatoes (grown in Joliet, Mont.), and stock, "creamed" with an immersion blender stick, with a dash of salt and dill added. Mmm!

Asparagus Soup

1 onion
1 tablespoon oil
1 large potato
1 cup stock
2 teaspoons dill
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop the onion and saute in oil in a medium-size saucepan until soft.

Cut the potato into small pieces and add to the onion. Add stock and simmer about 15 minutes, until the potato is tender.

Cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces (tough parts are OK to use) and add to the cooked vegetables. Simmer about 10 minutes, until the asparagus pieces are an olive color.

Put soup in blender (be careful: it's hot!), or use an immersion blender stick in the saucepan, to make a smooth mixture. Stir in the dill and seasonings, and serve.

Makes about 1 quart.

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