Chef Robert K. gives some insider details about what’s in season and shares a special soup recipe.

Our award-winning Culinary Director Robert K. has the inside scoop on the spring season and all the delicious produce this time of year brings. Plus, enjoy one of his special soup recipes that you may enjoy on board on your next AmaWaterways sailing.

What foods is Europe known for during this season?

Robert: In March and May, you have spring onions, baby spinach, leeks and mussels, as well as strawberries and rhubarb. In May we also have the very famous white asparagus, also known as the Danube asparagus, Marchfeld asparagus or spargel, which creates “spargel fever” throughout Germany.

How do you and AmaWaterways’ culinary team adapt our menus to incorporate springtime produce?

Robert: Every two to three months we modify our menus according to what is in season. In spring, we create starters like the white asparagus with freshly made Hollandaise and cured ham, toss together salads that highlight asparagus and make our delicious asparagus soup, featured below. With seasonal rhubarb, we make delicious desserts such as tarts and ragouts served with ice cream.

What does AmaWaterways typically serve on board for Easter?

Robert: We bake fresh Easter bunny pastries and hot cross buns on Easter morning. For lunch, we serve lamb and honey glazed Easter ham.

Can you reveal your sources for fresh produce along European rivers?

Robert: There are many markets along our itineraries, such as the Grand Market Hall in Budapest. All the ports we visit have small farmers markets on specific days. After so many years on the river I have my own private connections to get the freshest ingredients on board our ships. My lips are sealed!

Chef Robert’s Asparagus Soup with Lemon and Parmesan

Ingredients

  • 2¼lbs asparagus, bottom ends trimmed
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • ½cup parmigiano Reggiano, shredded
  • handful fresh herbs (such as thyme, dill or basil) - optional, for garnish

Instructions

1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent. Do not brown; reduce the heat if necessary.

2. Cut the tips from one bunch of the asparagus and set aside for garnish. Cut the remaining spears and the other bunch of asparagus into half-inch pieces.

3. Add the chopped asparagus to the pot (minus the reserved tips), along with the vegetable broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender.

4. Meanwhile, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the reserved asparagus tips for a few minutes, or until tender-crisp. Drain the tips and then place them in a bowl of ice water to ‘shock’ them — this stops the cooking process and preserves their bright green color. Once the tips are cool, drain them and set aside.

5. Purée the soup with a blender until completely smooth, then return the soup to the pot. Bring back to a simmer and stir in the lemon juice and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

6. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. To thicken the soup, allow it to simmer, uncovered, until the desired consistency is reached.

7. Ladle the soup into bowls, then top each bowl with asparagus tips, Parmigiano-Reggiano, herbs, and freshly ground black pepper.

Serves 4 to 6.

Savor this springtime soup and other delicacies on our Europe river cruises – contact your preferred travel advisor to reserve your place on board today!

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