Asparagus (or Western bamboo, as the Vietnamese call it) was introduced to Southeast Asia by the French. Because asparagus does not grow in tropical climates, the French imported canned varieties, which the Vietnamese used to create this delicate soup. In the United States, where asparagus grows easily, Corinne Trang uses fresh spears.
Warming Soup Recipes
3 pounds chicken wings
4 quarts plus 3 tablespoons water
One 2-inch piece of ginger, thickly sliced and lightly smashed
3 scallions, white parts only, lightly smashed
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 pound asparagus, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
1 pound fresh lump crabmeat
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
How to Make It
In a large pot, combine the chicken wings with 4 quarts of the water and the ginger, scallions and 2 tablespoons of the fish sauce. Bring to a boil over high heat and skim. Cover partially and simmer over low heat until the stock has reduced by half, about 3 hours. Skim occasionally during cooking.
Strain the stock into a large saucepan and discard the solids. Add the asparagus and crabmeat to the stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover partially, then simmer over low heat until the asparagus is tender and the flavors come together, about 5 minutes.
Pour the egg whites into the soup in a slow steady stream and blend a few times so the whites cook into strands. In a small bowl, stir the cornstarch with the remaining 3 tablespoons of water until smooth, then stir into the soup. Simmer until the soup thickens, about 1 minute. Season with the remaining 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish generously with cilantro and serve hot.
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