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  1. First make the asparagus stock. Wash the asparagus and remove the wood ends (hold each spear at both ends and bend it gently, it will snap at its natural breaking point). Cut the very end tips off the asparagus and finely chop the remaining middle part of the asparagus, stopping if the stem gets too touch to cut.
  2. Divide the asparagus into three piles, the delicate tips, the finely chopped edible middle part and the remaining woody stem. Pour 800ml of water into a small saucepan with a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cook the woody stems in the water for about 10 minutes, pressing them with the back of a slotted sport release the asparagus flavour. Remove the asparagus with the spoon and through away.
  3. Cook the asparagus in the remaining water for 2 minutes, drain and set aside to add later. Finally cook the chopped asparagus stems for 5-10 minutes and puree this stock (plus chopped asparagus) in a blender or food processor (I use a hand blender). Measure the asparagus stock and top up with either more water or chicken stock so you have 800ml of liquid again. You can prepare this ahead and leave in the fridge.
  4. Gently cook the onion and 75g of the butter, until transparent making sure it doesn't colour (about 20 mins). Add the garlic and thyme, if using and cook for a few minutes more. Then add the rice and stir briefly, so the rice is coated in the butter.
  5. Add the Vermouth and season with salt and pepper. Let the Vermouth evaporate and when it has almost all evaporated, start adding the asparagus stock a little at a time, stirring as you go.
  6. Try not to swamp the rice as it will over puff the rice, but you want enough liquid to cover all the rice so that it cooks evenly. When the stock has been absorbed, stir in another ladleful and continue like this for about 20 minutes until the rice is al dente (to the tooth) and you have added most of the stock (if you run out of stock you can always use a little more water)
  7. Add the asparagus tips fo the last couple of minutes to heat through. Remove from the heat, then add the remaining butter and the parmesan and mix well to combine.
  8. Spoon onto warmed plates, shake flat, then sprinkle over a little Parmesan. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes


My yearly love affair with British asparagus never ends and I think this is one of the best asparagus risottos out there.  The recipe is from the talented Sophie Braimbridge who I work with at Stirred Travel in the Veneto and Puglia, she makes the best risotti!  Making an asparagus stock is so worth it (also great for veggies) and I never tire of this recipe.  Make the stock in advance and then take the time to make the risotto with a glass of something good in hand!

The best results for Asparagus risotto is when the asparagus is in season and the flavor is at its best.  Blending the asparagus gives this risotto a great colour and intensifies the flavour as it permeates the rice.  Also reserve the wood stems of asparagus from other meals and add this to the asparagus stock to increase the flavour.


  • Use onions, which have a mild flavour, rather than shallots as a base.
  • Instead of arborio rice, which can be stodgy, use vialone nano (a lighter texture, good for seafood) or carnaroli (more substantial and creamy).
  • A wooden spoon is better for stirring than a metal one, which may break the grains.
  • Stir the risotto often, but not obsessionally. The most important time to stir is at the end, when you add the final addition of cheese and butter.
  • Use a stock that matches the ingredients, ideally made with the bones or shells of the meat or seafood. Non-vegetarians can use chicken stock in vegetable risottos for extra body.
  • The stock doesn't need to be boiling hot when you add it to the rice, whatever the recipe says. It might take a minute or two longer to cook, but no one will tell the difference.
  • Add the stock little by little, so the mixture stays fairly dry and the rice grains rub against each other, which makes for a creamy sauce.
  • I also find Italian terms for the stages of cooking helpful: tostatura –the roasting of the rice in the buttery onion before you add any liquid; sfumare, when you add the alcohol to the hot pan and it seethes; and the final step, the mantecatura – the vigorous beating of butter and cheese into the final dish that develops that final sleek creaminess.





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