Cream of Asparagus with Homemade Bagels

One of our favourite wedding gifts was the classic cookbook
Joy of Cooking .  We still say that if we had to own just one cookbook this would be it.  These days we use other cookbooks more often but still return to the Joy from time to time, and this is a meal that came straight from it.  Neither recipe needed any altering and both turned out wonderfully!

Cream of Asparagus Soup

From Rombauer, Irma von Starkloff, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker. Joy of Cooking . New York: Scribner, 2006.  Page 144.


  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 1 ½ cups minced celery (we didn’t have this and the results were fine!)
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 – 1 ½ lbs. asparagus, chopped
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 4 cups broth (vegetable, or chicken)
  • ½ – 1 cup cream, half-and-half, or milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated cheese for serving

Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add the celery and onion and cook, stirring, until softened.  Stir in the asparagus, cover and cook 5 minutes.  Stir in the flour and turn the heat to high.  Slowly stir in the broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Use a food processor or immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth*.  Return the pureed soup to the pot over medium heat and stir in the cream or milk.  Add salt and pepper to your liking and serve, garnished with the grated cheese.

Bagels (Really, really good bagels, that is!)

From Rombauer, Irma von Starkloff, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker. Joy of Cooking . New York: Scribner, 2006.  Page 619.


  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. warm water
  • 2 ¼ tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 ½ tsp. sugar or honey
  • 1 Tbs. melted vegetable shortening or butter
  • 1 ½ tsp. sugar, honey, or maple syrup
  • 1 ¾ tsp. salt
  • 4 – 4 ½ cups bread flour (or all purpose)
  • Additions: dried cranberries, raisins, cinnamon, minced garlic, shredded cheese, etc.
  • 4 liters or quarts water
  • 1 Tbs. malt syrup, sugar, honey, or maple syrup
  • ½ tsp. salt

Combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar in a large bowl and let stand until yeast dissolves (5 minutes).  Mix in the shortening, sugar, salt and 1 cup of flour.  Gradually add more flour and begin kneading when you can no longer stir.  Knead for about 10 minutes by hand, adding enough flour to make a smooth and elastic dough that has a “satiny” feel.  Cover and let rest for 15-20 minutes.

Punch down the dough and divide it into 8 pieces (or more for smaller bagels).  Roll each piece into a rope about 10 inches long with tapered ends.  Get a bowl of water and dip each end of the rope in the water to help it stick together, stretching the dough over itself end-to-end and pinching it together (here’s a great slideshow about the process ).  Let the rings of dough (soon to be called “bagels”) rise, covered with a cloth or plastic wrap, on a floured counter for about 15-20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Bring the water to a boil in a large pot with the syrup and salt.  Place the bagels into the boiling water, adding as many as will fit without being on top of one another.  When the bagels surface flip them and cook for about 45 seconds longer.  Remove them with a slotted spoon or spatula and place them on a baking sheet lined with cornmeal or semolina flour (or just flour if you don’t have those).

Top with your favorite toppings like shredded cheese (my favorite), sesame seeds, garlic, poppy seeds, etc. (You can also work these ingredients into the dough earlier in the process which is what we like to do with the cinnamon and raisins as well as the garlic).  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and crisp.  Eat them as soon as you are able (or let them cool to really seal in the flavors and then slice and lightly toast).

Oh yeah, and they’re really good sliced in half, lightly toasted and topped with soft goat cheese (chevre)!


*When using a food processor I use a slotted spoon to transfer most of the vegetables to the blender without the broth because otherwise my food processor will leak all over the place.  Thus if we had an immersion blender it would be much less messy… birthday ideas anyone?