Melt half the butter over a low heat. Add the thyme and let it sizzle for 30 seconds before adding the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook the onion for around five minutes until softened, then stir in the garlic and pearled spelt and cook for a couple more minutes.
Turn up the heat and stir in the cider. Let it bubble away until all the moisture has been absorbed by the grains. Add the stock, along with another generous pinch of salt. Once the stock has come up to a simmer, turn the heat down again, put the lid on the pan and leave to cook for around 20 minutes, lifting the lid and stirring occasionally until the spelt is cooked through, but still has a little bite to it, and most, but not quite all of the stock has been absorbed. Stir in two thirds of the sorrel, let it wilt, then taste (sorrel leaves vary in intensity, so you may find you don’t need to add all the leaves to get the desired citrus lift), then stir in the rest of the leaves if needed. Beat in the remainder of the butter and season with more salt if needed and some freshly ground black pepper.
While the spelt is simmering, cook the asparagus. Put a griddle pan on a high heat, add a dribble of olive oil, and space the asparagus spears out, single file, along the ridges of the pan. A couple of minutes cooking time on each side will leave the stems al dente and charred with flavoursome golden-black stripes. Season well and keep warm until ready to serve.
To serve, divide the spelt mixture between two wide bowls and top with the asparagus. Scatter over the herb flowers to finish.
Some of our favourite additions and seasonal variations: