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Cathartic Asparagus and Rice Soup

Asparagus and Rice Soup with Bacon and Black Pepper

It’s funny, just as my blog gets a long-planned new look the chaos in our world makes me yearn for the comfortable and the familiar. So instead of cooking something new, I’m trying to muster all the ingenuity the moment demands by reaching back to something I’ve made before on this blog. In fact its something I make quite often. So often that I can make it without consulting the original Judy Rodgers Asparagus and Rice Soup recipe.

Which is just the kind of comfort I crave.

COVID-19

Never in my experience have we had to endure a tragedy both as hyper-local and as staggeringly global as this pandemic. The irony is that the best attack against this enemy is to do as little as possible. That’s not hard – so let’s not screw this up!

In times like these cooking has a cathartic part to play in maintaining our well-being. I mean, when you’re cooking you’re paying more attention to yourself and your family than you are to the news, right?

But seriously there have been studies proving that cooking can help you focus on a task, which can give you a sense of power and control that you might feel has been lost in these trying times.

For me, being creative for a little bit each day makes me feel like I am “flourishing”. Which, according to the article I read, is a psychological term that describes the feeling of personal growth. Even if you find that concept a bunch of malarky, I’m sure you can agree that any activity that results in warm-from-the-oven cookies or Asparagus and Rice Soup can’t be a waste of your time.

Asparagus and Rice Soup with Bacon and Black Pepper

This soup is a good choice for life as we currently know it because it’s made with just a few pantry staples: asparagus, chicken broth, bacon, rice, onion, salt, and pepper. It can be made in 20 minutes or so and unlike many soups, it’s best eaten as soon as it’s been made.

For all its simplicity this is bold asparagus and rice soup. It’s a real mouthful of flavor and texture. There are but a few ingredients, so each step is important – especially in achieving all the varied textures that make this soup so memorable to me. So take your time slicing the asparagus nice and thin and get the heat of your pan just right so you can get the cooked asparagus both crisp and tender. I’ll attempt to explain the method in the recipe, but Judy does a much better job in her cookbook, so check that out someday. GREG

Asparagus and Rice Soup with Bacon and Black Pepper

Asparagus and Rice Soup with Bacon and Black Pepper

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 2–4Source Adapted from Judy RodgersPublished
Asparagus and Rice Soup with Bacon and Black Pepper

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
  • 1 large onion (peeled and diced)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for seasoning)
  • ¼ cup long grain white rice
  • 4 cup chicken stock
  • 4–5 slice thick cut bacon (well chopped)
  • 1 bunch asparagus (ends trimmed; stalks and tips sliced into 1/8‑inch thick rounds)
  • freshly cracked black pepper (use lots)
  • lemon wedges (to taste)

Directions

Warm 3 tablespoons olive oil into a medium saucepan with a lid set over medium heat. Add the onions and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often until tender and translucent but not yet beginning to color, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with oil then let the rice sit for a minute so it toasts slightly and absorbs some of the flavors. Pour in the stock and raise the heat to high. Once the stock begins to boil reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the rice is just tender. Turn off the heat but leave the pan on the stove

Meanwhile, on a separate burner pour the remaining 2 tablespoons oil into a 12-inch skillet set over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat has rendered and the bacon begins to crisp. Add the asparagus slices and all the little crumbly bits to the skillet and stir to coat with fat. Spread the asparagus mixture out to cover the bottom of the pan then allow it to cook, undisturbed until the asparagus begins to sizzle, about 4 minutes. Stir and let cook undisturbed until crisp at the edges and tender inside. Allow a bit more cooking if necessary. Don’t worry if the asparagus cooks a bit unevenly this will improve the variety of textures of the soup. Turn off the heat under the skillet.

Bring the onion and stock mixture to a boil, then turn off the heat and scrape the bacon mixture into the stock. Add lots of black pepper and season with salt to taste.

Serve immediately with more black pepper and lemon wedges on the side.