Cream of asparagus soup
A buttery soup – serve with crusty bread. Ideal for a light lunch.
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 bundles of asparagus, trimmed
1 leek, washed and trimmed
50g butter
400ml vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp double cream
1 tbsp olive oil
4 medium eggs, poached

Method:
1 Cut the asparagus into 3cm lengths. Reserve the tips and set aside. Halve the leek lengthways and cut into 1 cm pieces. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the leek and asparagus. Sauté for 3 minutes, until the vegetables are starting to soften. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, until the asparagus is soft and cooked through.

2 Blend the soup in a food processor or with a hand blender, until smooth. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper and return to the pan. Add the double cream and warm through.

3 Meanwhile, toss the asparagus tips in the olive oil, and heat a ridged griddle pan. Griddle the asparagus for 2 minutes. Serve the soup in warmed soup bowls, topping each bowl with a lightly poached egg and some asparagus tips.

Asparagus pissaladiere

A delicious tart – serve hot or cold. Ideal for picnics.

Serves 8
Ingredients:
1 packet ready-rolled puff pastry
750g red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
60g butter
2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 bay leaf 2 tsp soft light brown sugar
2 bundles asparagus
1 egg, beaten

Method:
1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

2 Melt the butter with the oil in a saucepan. Add the onions, stir well to coat with the butter, cover and cook on a gentle heat, stirring from time to time, for 30 minutes, until the onions are completely soft. Add the herbs and sugar, increase the heat and cook until the onions are caramelised. Leave to cool, discarding the herb sprigs and bay leaf.

3 Place the ready rolled puff pastry sheet on a lightly greased baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, score a 2cm deep border around the outside of the pastry, making sure you don’t cut all the way through.

4 Trim the asparagus as necessary, and cut in half. Pile the caramelised onions into the centre of the tart and spread out to the inner edge of the border. Place the asparagus on top, season and drizzle with olive oil. Brush the border with the beaten egg to glaze and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until the pastry is risen and golden brown. Turn the oven down to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and bake for a further 20 minutes or until the pastry is cooked through.

Grilled asparagus with parmesan, lemon and mint butter

Perfect for the barbecue.

Serves 4
Ingredients:
2 bundles of asparagus
2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
125g unsalted butter
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
50g parmesan shavings

Method:
1 Trim the asparagus as necessary. Place on a baking sheet or in a bowl and toss with the oil, making sure all the asparagus is coated. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Put the asparagus on the grill rack of the barbecue and cook for approximately 2 minutes each side, until it is lightly charred. Remove from the barbecue and divide between 4 serving plates.

2 Melt the butter on a low heat. Add the lemon juice and chopped mint leaves. Pour over the asparagus, season with sea salt and black pepper and sprinkle with the parmesan shavings.