It's asparagus season in Michigan. A delicious vegetable that annually Michigan produces 20 million pounds of on 9,500 acres of land and is raised by 120 Michigan family farms. Michigan ranks #2 in the nation for production of asparagus with California being first and Washington being 3rd. Asparagus is actually part of the lily family....bet you didn't know that. We have until the end of June in the northern part of Michigan to enjoy it fresh off the farm as the growing season ends then and the average lifespan of a field of asparagus will last 20 years. All these fun facts come from Michiganasparagus.org.
Chef Char has several upcoming cooking classes scheduled for the summer in Muskegon. Tickets and a list of upcoming classes with Chef Char are available on Eventbrite. You can click on the photo to the right to learn more and sign up!
Follow Chef Char on Facebook for updates on where she is cooking and what she is making. Now that you know a little about the star of the show in this episode, let's take it into Kitchen 242 with Chef Char to let her work her magic. Today, it's a cheese and kielbasa soup and it's delicious! She'll show you the process and the recipe will follow at the bottom!
Easy huh? Now, here's the recipe! Grab some delicious asparagus from your favorite neighborhood roadside stand of head to the Muskegon Farmers Market and support our local growers! We've got a great season in Michigan to enjoy this scrumptious and versatile stalk...eat it up!! Here's the recipe from Chef Char!
Chef Char’s Cheese & Kielbasa Asparagus Soup
32 oz. (4 cups) chicken broth or chicken stock
5 cups redskin potatoes, diced
2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet red pepper, seeded and diced
16 oz. kielbasa sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
16 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound asparagus, fresh or frozen, cut into 1 to 1 ½ inch segments
Salt and pepper to taste
½ oz. fresh chives, minced
In a large pan, boil the potatoes in chicken broth (or salted water). In another pan, sauté the vegetables and minced garlic until onions are translucent and a slight caramelization starts to appear on the carrots and peppers. Add the cooked carrots, onions, peppers and garlic from the sauté into the soup pan with the potatoes and reduce the heat of the soup pan to a low heat. In the sauté pan, cook the kielbasa until the cut up sections of sausage turn a light brown and add to the simmering soup pan. Add butter to the sauté pan until melted, add flour and stir to make a roux. Cook the roux until it turns a very light brown. Add milk to the roux and stir until dissolved. Add the shredded cheddar cheese to the milk and roux mixture and stir until dissolved. Last, add the cut asparagus to the soup pan then also stir in the cheese and roux mixture to the soup pan. Continue to cook the soup on low, covered, for 10 minutes. Stir until all cheese is melted and soup appears to thicken. Serve soup immediately, garnishing with shredded cheese and minced chives.