Saturday, May 19, 2012

Chilled Fiddleheads-Asparagus Soup

It's unbelievable to think after the ups and downs Mother Nature has played on us this year that summer is actually near. With the sun blazing today, temperatures hovering around a perfect 80 degrees Fahrenheit and a cool breeze it is the perfect pre-summer Saturday.

In honor of this gorgeous weather and it being May 19th, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day, I decided to make a zesty, cooling chilled fiddleheads-asparagus soup.
Before I get into fiddleheads and what they are, I want to briefly explain what today's Food Revolution Day is all about.  In 2010, ABC launched a groundbreaking reality show following Jamie Oliver's quest to tackle America's obesity problem and get our kids healthy by getting into the schools and teaching kids how to eat healthy and where their food came from.  The first season started off in Huntington, West Virginia, statistically the unhealthiest city in the US. Season two took him to Los Angeles, California, home to the 2nd largest school district in the country. It was heartbreaking to hear and see the stories of these children and their families suffering from obesity and even more shocking to see how several of the kids were unable to identify everyday fruits and vegetables or even know where their meat originated. Unfortunately, despite the compelling story ABC cancelled the show half-way through the second season due to lack of commercial support.  What sprouted from the show though was an overwhelming support worldwide for Jamie's Food Revolution to get the US to initiate policies to feed our children healthier food within the school system. This is a monumental task.  So in the meantime, the Food Revolution is working on the local grass-roots level by setting up free kitchens and cooking lessons within communities to teach children and adults how to start cooking. Please take a minute to check out the website and sign the petition to show your support for this incredible initiative.

Now, back to fiddleheads. What are they exactly? I had wondered the same thing myself for the last few seasons and have just looked at them as an oddity.  A vegetable taken from the furled fronds of a young fern, fiddleheads usually appear in the early springtime and look like a tightly curly "q", similar to a snail shell. Used both in Asian cooking and North American, fiddleheads are extremely versatile in its culinary use.  I am extremely interested in trying it in an Indonesian dish called gulai paku which are fiddleheads cooked in a rich coconut sauce mainly spiced with lemongrass, galangal, chili pepper and turmeric leaves. I will save that for another day though!  Tonight, it will be featured in my chilled soup!  Fiddleheads have the sweet, lemony, grassy taste of asparagus which is why I paired them here with asparagus in my cold buttermilk-based soup. The use of the buttermilk gave the soup a nice tang with a bit of richness from the créme fraîche added at the very end.

This chilled fiddlehead-asparagus soup is the perfect, refreshing light lunch or starter on a hot summer day. You can also serve them for your next cocktail party served in short shot glasses, topped with a sprig of fiddlehead or asparagus on a toothpick. Tonight, mine will be enjoyed al fresco with a glass a cool white wine and my marinated all-natural, free range poussin from Griggstown Quail Farm. What a perfect way to close the first Food Revolution Day!

Serves 2

1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 cup fiddleheads, cleaned thoroughly and brown ends trimmed
1 cup asparagus, cut 1-inch long
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 cup vegetable stock
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp créme fraîche (optional)
Chives (optional)

1.  In a medium size pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add fiddleheads, asparagus and garlic and saute until slightly softened. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Then lower heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
2.  Remove from heat and add buttermilk, Worchestershire sauce, salt and pepper.  Using a hand-held immersion blender, process until solids are all liquified and soup is smooth. This will take several minutes.
3.  Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.  Ladle into a bowl, add 1 tbsp créme fraîche and chives per bowl if desired. Serve chilled, not at room temperature.


  1. Mmm I love asparagus and the fiddlehead ferns are a gorgeous addition!

    1. Thanks Katherine! I really loved my first taste of fiddleheads and can't wait to try them in another recipe.