It's been a month or so since the best asparagus stalks were around, but there are still some stragglers at the market just waiting to tempt you. Here's an apt way to say good-bye to asparagus season.
This recipe from Sunday Nite Dinner is kind of a Vietnamese egg drop soup, with crab meat and asparagus that give the soup some freshness and a little sweetness, and just enough fish sauce and charred onion to give it some funk. (Although if you're like me, you'll have a hard time not reaching for some fierce hot sauce to really perk it up.) There's enough cornstarch to bring everything together, but not enough to make each bite taste gloppy and heavy. It's a fine summer soup, and perfect as a light meal.
- 8 cups chicken stock, divided
- 1 medium onion, halved
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 pound crab meat
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 large eggs, barely beaten together in a medium-sized bowl
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
Turn on the broiler. Cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil, and place the onion halves on, cut side up. Place pan underneath the broiler, and cook the onions until blackened and fragrant. Flip the onion halves, and blacken on the other side. Turn off the heat.
Pour 1/2 cup of the chicken stock into a medium-sized bowl. Pour the remaining 7 1/2 cups of stock into a large pot, along with the blackened onions. Bring to a boil of medium-high heat. Add fish sauce, black pepper, a pinch of salt, and asparagus. Cook until asparagus is tender, four to five minutes.
Stir the cornstarch into the 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Turn heat to medium, and in a slow steady stream, whisk this slurry into the pot. Add the crab. Let the mixture thicken for a minute, stirring occasionally. Slowly stir the eggs into the pot, and cook until they set, about one minute.
Season soup with salt to taste, and then ladle into four bowls. Garnish each with cilantro, and a little more freshly ground pepper.