Food & Culture

Cooking in Quarantine: Tis the Season for Asparagus

Enjoy a chilled asparagus soup from Red Cow's Taylor Johnson

By Tricia Romano April 20, 2020


“Although the world is in turmoil, it’s still time to lay in my garden for the year. There’s always a lot of work this time of year and staying inside gives me no excuse to procrastinate! I live with three girls and a rabbit so there’s always plenty to do. I typically try to make breakfast for my girlfriend and the kids before I leave for work, and on my days off, I’m cooking dishes with plenty of leftovers that improve with a couple days in the fridge: lots of braised and pot roasts variations while the weather was still chilly but now I’m planning on using the cast iron hibachi more often.

I think our company has done a great job of offering the same level of care and hospitality for our guests while completely pivoting every aspect of how we interact with the public and each other. It’s impossible to predict how the next month will play out, we will all be paying close attention to our local government while continuing to be a dependable presence for our Madrona neighborhood and the city at large.”

—Taylor Johnson is the head chef at Red Cow. Born in Wisconsin, raised in the northwest, he was most notably former Chef de Cuisine at the Seattle Art Museum. He is also a two-time 3-2-1 Battle Solid Steel wrestling champion.

Ethan Stowell Restaurants is running a gift card promotion. All gift cards are 10% off with the code ESR10 or 20% off gift card purchases over $200 with the code ESR20. Gift cards can be found on the website. Seven locations are open for takeout and delivery, including Ballard Pizza Co and Frelard Pizza Co, Rione XIII, How to Cook a Wolf, Mkt., Red Cow and Tavolata Capitol Hill. For more details on hours and delivery options scroll to the end of the post or visit ESR’s website.

Asparagus Vichyssoise 

This recipe is for a lightly refreshing chilled asparagus soup. It is a great way to capitalize on fresh WA asparagus, and a great way to use the tougher stalks and thicker stems.

While I use a commercial blender and a chinoise to get a super smooth texture, you can achieve comparable results with a good processor and bowl strainer.


  • 2 cups leeks whites, sliced thin and washed thoroughly (about 2 large leeks)
  • Greens leftover from the aforementioned leeks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 2 tbls champagne vinegar
  • 1lb peeled Yukon gold potatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick (about 3 large potatoes)
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1lb (about 3 cups) asparagus stalks and trim. Save the tips to garnish your finished soup!


Wash the leek greens and combine in a pot with the water and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cook gently for about ten minutes, and remove from heat.

Sweat the leek whites in a splash of olive oil until just translucent but with no color. Deglaze with the vinegar and cook until almost evaporated.

Add your freshly prepared leek broth and potatoes and bring to a boil. Skim and reduce the heat and cook until potatoes are very soft. 

Add the half and half, and bring back to a simmer.

Prepare a large ice bath, big enough for a half bowl. You’ll also need a chinoise and a couple ladles.

Add a few ladles of the hot soup into a blender, and half of your asparagus. Blend on high for about 10-15 seconds to puree smooth and to “friction blanch” the asparagus. Then, moving swiftly, pass through the chinoise into the ice bath to shock the soup and set the bright green color. Repeat until all the hot soup and asparagus has been processed. After completely chilled, season with salt to taste.

Makes about 2qt.


Ethan Stowell Restaurants are open in 7 locations currently, including Red Cow: Details and links can be seen here:

  • ESR @ Home: enjoy full meals designed for two or more people (or the savvy solo diner who wishes to stock up and have leftovers for the next day). Select locations will have three meal packages available that range from $40 to $55 per package. Menus are updated every week and current menus can be found on each restaurant’s homepage or when ordering online.
  • Tavolàta Capitol Hill: Takeout 7 days a week from 5 pm to 9 pm. Orders can be placed via the website. Curbside pickup is available. Delivery is offered via Grubhub.
  • Rione XIII (Capitol Hill): Takeout 7 days a week from 5 pm to 9 pm. Orders can be placed via the website. Curbside pickup is available. Delivery is offered via the app Grubhub.
  • Red Cow (Madrona): Takeout 7 days a week from 5 pm to 9 pm. Orders can be placed via the website. Curbside pickup is available. Delivery is offered via the app Grubhub.
  • How to Cook a Wolf (Queen Anne): Takeout 7 days a week from 5 pm to 9 pm. Orders can be placed via the website. Curbside pickup is available. Delivery is offered via the app Grubhub.
  • Mkt. (Tangletown/Wallingford/Green Lake): Takeout 7 days a week from 5 pm to 9 pm. Orders can be placed via the website. Curbside pickup is available. Delivery is offered via the app Grubhub.
  • Pizza Delivery: Ballard Pizza Co. and Frelard Pizza Co offer takeout and delivery 7 days a week from 4 pm to 9 pm. Takeout features curbside pickup as an option with no signature required for online orders placed through the website. Delivery is offered via the apps Caviar, UberEats, and Grubhub.
  • Wines To Go: All four of the ESR wines are available for take away from Tavolàta Capitol Hill, Mkt., Rione XIII, Red Cow, How to Cook a Wolf, Ballard Pizza Co., and Frelard Pizza Co. We will also be featuring a rotating selection of discounted wines starting at $15 per bottle. Purchase by the bottle or case. Please note case purchases may require 24-hour notice to guarantee availability. Order online and pick up curbside with no signature required. The person picking up must have a valid ID to prove they are 21 years of age.

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