Cream of Asparagus Soup

April 8, 2009

Cream of Asparagus Soup

I’ve had greens on my mind quite a bit lately, and so it was only a matter of time that a vegetable not classified as a “green” but which is very green would surface.  Spring has exploded here, and it’s difficult to avoid the beautiful asparagus I’ve been seeing at the grocery store.  It’s a bit challenging to pass up a sale, so invariably a bundle is put in the basket even though it wasn’t on my list.  Unfortunately, the beautiful pencil thin stalks were pushed back in the vegetable drawer, and somewhat forgotten.  For a vegetable that has been referred to as the Food of the Kings, this is a sad state of affairs.

Often, recipes I’ve seen initiate a purchase, but in the case of the forgotten asparagus, it was the sale.  Once I’ve made the purchase, then a seed is planted in my brain and I head for the recipes.  Of course once I’d located a recipe, I realized I hadn’t seen the asparagus.  Had I really purchased it?  Not completely sure, I picked up another bunch  at the store, and when I went through the vegetable drawer, while putting the groceries away, I found the other bundle still wrapped in plastic and looking as fresh as ever.   Good thing we like asparagus because I now had quite a bit of it.

Soup was definitely in order.  Beautiful silky, creamy and very green Cream of Asparagus soup — quite different from the Campbell’s my mother used to purchase for me when I was growing up.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

2 lbs. fresh asparagus
1 lg. sweet brown onion
3 T butter, unsalted
5-6 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 c. half-n-half
1/4 c. creme fraiche
1/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Asparagus
Remove the tips from a few nice stalks of asparagus to reserve as a garnish and set aside.  Cut the remainder of the asparagus into 1″ pieces.

In a large sauce pan, melt 2 T of the butter over medium low heat and add the onions, cooking and stirring until softened.  Add the asparagus pieces and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add about 5 c. of the broth and cover the pan.  Bring to a simmer, cooking gently until the asparagus is soft, about 15-20 minutes.

To prepare the garnish, while the asparagus mixture is cooking, blanch the reserved tips in boiling salted water.  Allow to cook about 1-2 minutes for very thin tips and then plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking.  Drain and allow to dry on a clean towel.

Using a blender or food processor, and working with small batches, ladle the hot soup carefully into the container.  Pulse the mixture until smooth, empty into a large bowl, then repeat until all the soup has been blended.  Return the blended soup to the pan and stir in the half-n-half and creme fraiche.  If necessary, use the remaining cup of broth to thin the consistency.  Salt and pepper to your liking, bring to a slow boil, and add the last tablespoon of butter.  Stir in the lemon juice, divide into bowls and garnish with the blanched tips.

Serves 4.

Asparagus Soup

Notes:

  • Depending on the asparagus you have, it is best to trim the woody ends of each stalk and then using a veggie peeler, shave as much of the skin off as possible.  This will help prevent stringiness.  Usually, the smaller, more thin asparagus doesn’t require peeling.
  • You can get by with less asparagus in this recipe if necessary and still not need to reduce the other quantities.  It depends on how thick you like your soup.
  • If you’d prefer, you can use a chinois to strain the soup after processing and before returning it to the pan.  It really does help turn out a smooth soup.
  • I’m thinking that the tips are so lovely, why not keep all of them separate to stir in later.  I love a chunky soup.
  • This is a very pleasant, easy recipe that is quite satisfying for dinner or lunch.  It keeps easily in a covered container for 2 days.
  • To make ahead, puree and store in a well-sealed container in the fridge.  To prepare for serving, add the half-n-half, creme fraiche, lemon, and season.  Stir well and heat before serving.
  • This recipe is an adaptation of one originally published in Gourmet in 2001 and is available here.
  • Asparagus is another amazing food that is packed full of folate, competing with oranges for one of the biggest sources.  If you remember, I mentioned that in my Spring Salad post not too long ago.  It’s also a big source of cancer-fighting antioxidants:  Vitamin A, C, and E.  The tips are especially nutrient rich and if only gently steamed, make sure your body gets almost full benefit.  If too long in water, that benefit can be lessened.
  • This soup is yet another qualifier for Chris of Mele Cotte’s event:  Cooking to Combat Cancer III. If you haven’t stopped by to get the information, or thought of what you might send, get yourself in gear!

Asparagus Soup
Spring Leaves

 

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Esi April 8, 2009

I just emailed this to my friend who was just asking me about cream of asparagus soup not too long ago. As you know I love all things asparagus so I think this sounds lovely.

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bron April 8, 2009

Yum! I love Cream of Asparagus soup, adore how you’ve presented it here and the beautiful bowls too. Truly the only downside with asparagus is the foul odour in the bathroom…*blush*

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Elle April 8, 2009

Kelly, beautiful, as usual! It’s such an elegant soup, isn’t it? Very pretty!

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Blond Duck April 8, 2009

It’s a Johnny Cash song! He sings, “Well he’s not very handsome to look at
Oh he’s shaggy and he eats like a hog
And he’s always killin’ my chickens
That dirty old egg-suckin’ dog”

It’s kinda mean, but my Dad loved it. So to me, it’s good memories.

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Kristen April 9, 2009

My family LOVES asparagus, but I don’t know if I can get them to eat it in soup form. I’m going to have to try thought because it sounds awesome!

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Paula April 9, 2009

Simple beautiful and delicious!

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June April 9, 2009

Beautiful recipe, beautiful photos…Easter Dinner just got its first course. Thanks Kelly!

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DaviMack April 9, 2009

Sounds delicious! Love the picture of the leaf, there, too!

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Kevin April 10, 2009

That asparagus soup looks and sounds so good!

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Cate O'Malley April 10, 2009

Mmm, love Cream of Asparagus Soup, but I’ve never made it. Yours looks so good, I might have to change that though!

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kellypea April 11, 2009

It’s truly one of my favorite soups. But sometimes the recipes aren’t as great as I’d like. This one’s a keeper.

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Blond Duck April 10, 2009

I wanted to wish you a Happy Easter!

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kellypea April 10, 2009

Happy Easter to you and your furry little crew!

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RecipeGirl April 10, 2009

I would happily gobble this for dinner with a hunka bread. My husband… not so much.
Gorgeous photos!

I LOVE the oval bowl you have there. Always on the hunt for those sorts of oddities.

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kellypea April 10, 2009

Thanks Lori! I’ve tried other recipes, and often they’re too thick and gloopy. This one is lovely. I think the bowl is old Princess House. I ordered it at a party a friend hosted. Do you ever go to Home Goods? It’s a great place for props.

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Jude April 14, 2009

The texture looks great. Will yogurt be a suitable sub for the creme fraiche? That stuff costs way too much around here.

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meleah rebeccah April 19, 2009

hey now! this is something I might actually be able to make AND eat!

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kellypea April 19, 2009

Hey meleah! Fancy meeting you here…you’d love this soup. So yummy — the best asparagus soup recipe I’ve tried — and I’ve tried quite a few!

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Marsha April 23, 2009

Hey Kelly! This recipe sounds fabulous. We are sponsoring a recipe contest: “Asparagus Lovers Unite for Obama!” It’s not his fav veggie. We’re searching for the best asparagus recipes in America to send to the White House. Checkout our website for contest details:
http://www.regionalbest.com.
Thanks!
Marsha

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