One of spring's great classics is a steaming bowl of asparagus soup. This is the recipe I've followed for many years, in part because it's so simple, in part because I change the recipe, just slightly, to move from an everyday and almost rustic asparagus soup to a richer, smoother, more elegant soup made to impress. This one's a keeper!
"Seriously yummy!" ~ Amy
"Just made this for my sick boyfriend. He loved it!" ~ Sonia
"I love food-saving recipes, but they are rarely as tasty as this one." ~ Cordel
"... it was delicious!" ~ Stephanie via Facebook
A few years back, a foodie friend and I shared a patio supper with a new acquaintance. The spring night was unseasonably warm and the conversation soon turned familiar.
When the woman boasted about her husband’s kitchen prowess, we asked if he had a specialty. Soup! she answered and we were suitably impressed since some men’s culinary crafts extend no further than the grill.
She elaborated then, with apparently genuine enthusiasm, that the so-called specialty entailed nothing more than opening a can.
Now, please, before making assumptions about food snobs, please know that my sister and I were raised on Campbell’s (tomato and mushroom) and that my pantry always includes several cans of both.
But homemade soup is so easy – and fast and healthful – to make, I wonder, really, why that’s so.
If you’ve not made soup for awhile, start with EVERYDAY-TO-ELEGANT ASPARAGUS SOUP, one version for comfort food on a weeknight, the other to impress friends on the weekend.
Homemade Crème FraîcheVelvet-textured crème fraîche (pronounced krem-fresh) is easy to make at home! Simply stir two tablespoons of buttermilk into a cup of cream. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 8 – 24 hours or until it thickens. Unlike cream, crème fraîche can be boiled without curdling.
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 5 cups
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (for Elegant: 3 tablespoons)
- 2 large onions
- 2 ribs celery
- 2-1/2 pounds asparagus
- 5 cups chicken broth or Homemade Chicken Stock
- 1/2 cup non-fat yogurt or buttermilk (Elegant: crème fraîche or cream)
- Balsamic vinegar (don't skip)
Melt butter over medium high in a large pot or Dutch oven. Meanwhile, chop onion and celery, add to butter and sauté until golden, stirring often.
Meanwhile, cut off and discard woody ends from asparagus; cut remaining spears in one-inch lengths. (For Elegant: Cut off top inch or so of each spear. Separately, steam until almost cooked and reserve for garnish.) Add asparagus and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken broth, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer about 20 minutes or until asparagus is soft.
Remove from heat and purée with an immersion blender or, in batches, in a blender. (For Elegant: Purée, then press through a strainer.) If making ahead of time, stop here and refrigerate or freeze. Before serving, reheat and continue.
Stir in yogurt or buttermilk. (For Elegant: stir in crème fraîche or cream.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with a splash of vinegar. (For Elegant: Top bowls with steamed tips, then a dollop of crème fraîche or a swirl of cream.)
Frugal cooks know that one good way to save money on groceries is to use every last bit of the food we buy, never wasting a thing. For the past few weeks, I've been paying attention to the 'real cost' of vegetables, measuring what's edible, what goes to waste. (Okay, I know that composting would prevent waste entirely. But I'm not there yet and suspect that others aren't either.) Much to my surprise, asparagus are one of the most wasteful vegetables: by snapping off the woody ends, we throw away 40-50% of the spears. This means that if we're paying $2 or $3 or even $4 for a pound of asparagus, our 'real cost' is far higher than apparent. But then I saw a tip about using the woody ends for making asparagus soup. So I saved the ends from three big bunches of asparagus and made soup. Voila! Very little waste! Now I wouldn't serve this to guests, it's 'very rustic' and can be a little bit fibrous, depending on the asparagus. But it is a technique to try, see if it works for you.
For a very spare and simple soup, skip the yogurt, crème fraîche or cream entirely.
Don't skip the balsamic vinegar, somehow it's the perfect contrast for the earthy asparagus.
I'm always disappointed when asparagus soup turns out a pale, drab green versus the bright asparagus green of the quick-cooked spears. To bring back some of the green, drop in a handful of fresh spinach leaves to cook for just a minute or two before puréeing.
More Recipes for Spring Asparagus
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