Celebrate Spring the Odette’s way, making the most of the freshest, well-sourced ingredients and adapting to the seasons. This colourful starter maximises the delicacy of new-season asparagus and embraces the spirit of Easter with its poached egg adornment.
Burford Brown eggs are readily available and have particularly striking yolks. Ask your butcher or local deli to slice the lardo; if you can’t find lardo, thinly sliced pancetta (or even bacon) is a good alternative.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 6 bunches asparagus (reserve 2 spears for garnish)
- 4 Burford Brown eggs
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 50 ml cider vinegar
- 200 g butter
- 1 litre cold water, plus a bowl of iced water
- 250 g button mushrooms
- 250 g wild mushrooms (girolles or chanterelles if possible)
- 100 ml cream
- 50 g panko breadcrumbs
- 4 large, very thinly sliced pieces of lardo
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chop the asparagus into evenly sized pieces. Cook in boiling salted water for 6 minutes, and then immediately transfer into iced water.
- Melt half the butter in a frying pan and sweat the onion until soft and transparent (it should not colour). Pour in the cider vinegar and boil for 1 minute. Add the cold water and cooked asparagus and blend in a food processor for roughly 5 minutes until it makes a nice, smooth soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside in the fridge quickly, to preserve the green colour.
- Cut the button mushrooms into quarters and the wild mushrooms into even sizes. Heat the vegetable oil in a hot pan, then add the button mushrooms and cook until golden brown. Add the wild mushrooms and cook for 2 mins. Add the cream, bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper to taste and set to one side (it needs to keep warm).
- Heat a frying pan to a high heat and add the rest of the butter. When it starts to foam and turn brown add the panko breadcrumbs and stir constantly until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Strain out the butter and set aside the breadcrumbs.
- Fill a large pan with water and bring to a simmer. Add the vinegar and crack in the eggs. Simmer for 1½ minutes until poached.
- Thinly slice the remaining 2 spears of asparagus and dress in the lemon juice.
- Reheat the soup. To plate up, spoon a portion of the warm mushroom mix into each bowl, then place a poached egg on top. Drape sliced lardo over the egg so that it melts, and pour some of the hot asparagus soup to the side. Finish with the crispy breadcrumbs and sliced raw asparagus.
And to drink…
Nicolas recommend the following white wines. Both are notable for their freshness and acidity, which complement the powerful green of the asparagus. Expect grassy, mineral and lemony notes with a long finish and a hint of green peas.
- Sancerre Les Champs Clos (2015), 12.5%, £20
- Quincy Pierre Duret (2015), 13%, £16.60
Photography by Sarah Louise Ramsay www.slrphotography.co.uk