Cream of White Asparagus Soup

White Cream of Asparagus Soup

Last year about this time when my husband and I were preparing for our trip to Europe, I busied myself with finding recipes that might be typical of the region we would be in so I could try them at home. I was able to share a few of these before we left, but neglected to share the Cream of White Asparagus Soup I made.

I’ve shared two asparagus soup recipes before — this one and this one, but both were prepared with green asparagus as might be expected. I’m no different than most Americans, evidently, when confronted with the white asparagus the French and Germans prefer. I see it on the rack at the market, almost an afterthought next to a large spread of green asparagus. In comparison it is easy to overlook even for someone like myself who seems always to choose the produce the clerk has to look up or ask the name of because no one purchases it.

It’s anemic, and somewhat reminiscent of a phallic symbol, thin, and long, uncircumcised. Something El Greco might have painted in a still life minus the typical brooding darkness of most of his work. It rarely appears “plum and shiny” as I’ve read it described, so it’s easy to pass it by and choose the purple asparagus that has been showing up recently even though I’m aware that as beautiful as the purple variety is, when cooked, the vibrant color dissipates.

White Asparagus

Last April, everything changed. I read this article in the New York Times by Elaine Sciolino, and learned about how it’s cultivated, harvested, and the best way to prepare it as opposed to the green variety. It piqued my curiosity and so I did some research for recipes before we left, finding that we’d most likely have a good chance of ordering something made with fresh white asparagus while both in France and Germany.

White Asparaguson Rue Cler, Paris

Although we did see an abundance of asparagus menu items at the bistros we ate at in Paris, all seemed to feature green asparagus. It wasn’t until we were walking along Rue Cler early one afternoon that we saw white asparagus. Honestly, it looked no different than what I was used to seeing in my market, but I remembered that the winter had been cold and wet, and white asparagus slow in coming to market last year.

Spargelzeit at the Hotel Sonne

When we arrived in southern Germany, it was a completely different matter. We saw white asparagus in many markets, and at Parsifal, the restaurant at Hotel Sonne Füssen where we stayed, it was featured in a multi-course dinner as part of Spargelzeit, or annual white asparagus celebration. We decided to make that experience the gauge for what I’d prepare once home.

White Asparagus Prep

I decided to make the soup wanting to try and replicate its velvet consistency. After sifting through many recipes — although surprised at how few there were in comparison to recipes that use green asparagus — I chose this recipe because I thought it was the most basic, contained some cream but not a cup of heavy cream like many recipes I found, and was easy to prepare.

White Asparagus PrepWhite Asparagus Soup PrepBlending White Asparagus SoupAdding Cream to White Asparagus Soup

The result? Flavor much more subtle than the green asparagus soup I’m used to. But unless I have a bowl of each in front of me so I can compare them, I honestly don’t know how different one could be from the other. It tastes like asparagus. Some reviewers have said the white asparagus is less bitter than the green, and others say the opposite. To each his own, I suppose, but will say I’m glad I’ve finally tried white asparagus soup myself and will now experiment with many of the other recipes I’ve found along the way.

Cream of White Asparagus Soup

Notes:

  • I used an immersion blender which is much easier to deal with than my large blender, but it rarely achieves the same results. If you have the time and don’t mind making the fuss, then use an immersion blender, but pour the soup through a fine-meshed strainer (you’ll have to use a wooden spoon to stir the contents through) and then pour it into the blender for a final spin. You may think this is over the top, but I’ve learned that this technique results in the most velvety consistency and is completely worth the time.
  • I may try using a potato instead of the half-and-half next time because I’ve had good results with that in other “creamy” soup recipes.  It’s a nice option if you want a vegetarian or vegan soup.
  • On the cost of white asparagus:  Yes, it’s usually a dollar or two more per pound of vegetable.  But think about it.  I made this soup for the two of us and it fed us for two meals. Add a salad or some nice crusty bread and it’s a far more inexpensive and delicious meal than what you’d pay for something containing meat. To me, it’s not the cost per pound, but what I’m getting for my money — and this is well worth it.

More Cream of White Asparagus Soup recipes from around the web:

 

 

16 thoughts on “Cream of White Asparagus Soup

  1. I’ve only cooked with white asparagus once and perhaps squandered it’s unique taste to the more powerfully flavored goat cheese in the recipe I made. I’m marveling at the creamy soup and the spoonfuls of travel memories in each bite! An enchanting post.

    1. Deb, I found a few recipes that used cream cheese and thought it sounded quite good — but yes, I can see how it may over-power the flavor of the asparagus. Thanks for reading!

    1. I know you will find a way to incorporate white asparagus into your recipe collection, Kalyn. I think generally it is on the elegant side of veggies, but still easy to work with.

  2. Welcome back, Kelly! I’ve missed ya in this space. 🙂

    Stealing this to share with others. White Asparagus is in good supply now. I wish we could’ve sent you some PURPLE Asparagus to try. (Thought those suckers lose color pretty quickly.)

    1. Aww — thanks! And you are always welcome to share — I appreciate it! As for the purple asparagus, I think I’m going to use it raw in a salad next. Otherwise, that pretty color disappears.

  3. Ohhh yummy! I haven’t tried white asparagus, though I have seen it often, so I am not sure why I haven’t. Next time I see it, I will pick some up. You’ve inspired me <3

  4. Quite lovely Kelly. I have tried white asparagus from the local farmer’s market before, and found it to be good, though I can’t say I thought the price was justified.

    Of course this is coming from a person who grows a whole bunch of green asparagus, so that we can have a sort of asparagus orgy for a few weeks every early summer. There is nothing on earth so good as sauteed asparagus that has been picked for less that 10 minutes when you eat it. I hope you won’t be mad if I try your soup with the green stuff! 😉

    1. I’ve always been fascinated by how asparagus grows so can imagine it’s quite the treat being able to pick and enjoy it immediately! I saw white asparagus in the market today and it was $4.99/lb. Which isn’t bad at all. Definitely give it a go — the flavors will be great with the green variety.

  5. Michael and I want to expand our asparagus bed next year. I wonder if we can grow white asparagus? I confess to passing it by in the grocery because it is more expensive, but if we could grow it…

    1. I don’t see why not — from what I’ve read, you just have to get it before it reaches the surface and perhaps have that tool described in the NYTimes article I linked to. They mentioned something about mounds, so maybe more soil over the tops beyond what you currently have? Should be interesting!

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