Everyday-to-Elegant Asparagus Soup

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 refined and elegant soup made to impress. This one's a keeper!
Everyday-to-Elegant Asparagus Soup ♥ KitchenParade.com, one recipe for either rustic or refined asparagus soup, a spring classic. Weight Watchers Friendly. Rave Reviews!

COMPLIMENTS!
  • "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
  • "My first time making asparagus soup and I found the perfect recipe ..." ~ LeeAnn


No Soup Snobs Here. But ...

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.

She elaborated then, with apparently genuine enthusiasm, that the so-called specialty entailed nothing more than — get this — opening a can of soup.

Huh? My friend and I dared not look at one another, we'd have guffawed out loud.

Now, please, before making assumptions about food snobs, please know that my sister and I were raised on Campbell’s (tomato and mushroom, thank you very much) and that my pantry always includes cans of each.

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 (or yourselves) on the weekend.

Hmmmm ... Can You Make Soup from the Woody Ends of Asparagus?

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. I pay real attention to the "real cost" of vegetables, measuring what's edible, what goes to waste.

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 obvious.

But then I thought, can we use the woody ends for asparagus soup? So I saved the ends from three big bunches of asparagus and made soup. Voila! Very little waste!

Now know this. I wouldn't serve asparagus soup made from the woody ends 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!

RESOURCES Okay, I know that composting would prevent waste entirely. But I'm not there yet and suspect that others aren't either. UPDATE We're composting! Check out My Most-Used Kitchen Tool.



EVERYDAY-TO-ELEGANT ASPARAGUS SOUP

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 5 cups (Everyday) or 3 cups (Elegant)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (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 heavy cream)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
    FOR SERVING
  • Balsamic vinegar (don't skip, Everyday or Elegant)
  • Steamed Asparagus Tips (Elegant)

Melt the butter over medium high in a large pot or Dutch oven but don't let it darken. Meanwhile, chop the onion and celery, add these to butter as they're prepped. Sauté until golden, really letting some color develop, stirring often and adjusting the heat up or down as needed to keep developing color without burning.

Meanwhile, cut off and discard the woody ends from asparagus. Cut the remaining spears into one-inch lengths. (For Elegant: Cut off the top inch or so of each spear. Separately, steam the asparagus tips until almost cooked and reserve for garnish.)

RESOURCES How to Snap the Woody Ends from Asparagus, with Step-by-Step Photos & Video. There's a rhythm!

Add the asparagus to the pot and sauté the asparagus pieces for 2-3 minutes, just until they begin to take on a little color. Add the chicken broth, cover the pot and bring to a boil. Once the soup boils, reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer, just a few bubbles, and let simmer about 20 minutes or until the asparagus turns soft.

Remove the soup from the heat and purée with an immersion blender or, in batches, in a blender. (For Elegant: Purée, then press the soup through a strainer after it's been puréed.)

If making ahead of time, stop here and refrigerate or freeze. Before serving, reheat the soup and continue.

Stir in the 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.)

ALANNA's TIPS Asparagus Soup is a good use for fat spears of asparagus, save the skinny spears for a Gorgeous Raw Asparagus Salad or Stir-Fried Shrimp with Asparagus. When asparagus is plentiful, make a double batch of soup, one for the freezer. If you’re in a rush, pre-heat the chicken broth in the microwave. 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.
NUTRITION INFORMATION
For Everyday Asparagus Soup Per Cup: 108 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 6mg Cholesterol; 450mg Sodium; 15g Carb; 4g Fiber; 9g Sugar; 7g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 3 & SmartPoints 4 & Freestyle 1 CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = scant cup (7g protein). This recipe has been "Alanna-sized".

For Elegant Asparagus Soup Per Cup: 227 Calories; 11g Tot Fat; 7g Sat Fat; mg Cholesterol; 800mg Sodium; 24g Carb; 0g Fiber; 13g Sugar; 8g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 5 & PointsPlus 8 & SmartPoints 11 & Freestyle 5 CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = scant half cup (3g protein).



Homemade Crème Fraîche

Velvet-textured crème fraîche (pronounced krem-fresh) is easy to make at home! Simply stir two tablespoons of buttermilk into a cup of heavy 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.


More Recipes for Spring Asparagus

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Stir-Fried Shrimp with Asparagus Roasted Salmon & Asparagus Asparagus Custard Tart
~ more asparagus recipes ~

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(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

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~ buttermilk recipes ~

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~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

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~ Homemade Crème Fraîche ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005, 2007 (online), 2011, 2015 (republish) & 2019

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.

Comments

  1. You have spring asparagus? I'm moving there! We still have mountains of dirty old snow (even though it's 70 and sunny today, finally)...

    4/20/2007

    ReplyDelete
  2. Marilyn5/01/2008

    Great recipe AGAIN ... although I am not that crazy about using chicken stock as for some reason the purchased stuff tastes odd to me. As far as the waste part, I agree. At times I cringe when I see the waste of veggies in cooking by some people. My mom didn't waste anything whether it was veggies or meat and she had tons from the garden ...

    I saw Barefoot Contessa use asparagus that I would pass by, saying it had more flavour and she peeled the stalk with a peeler.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Cream will never curdle when boiled, unless the cream has already soured. I've added heavy cream to asparagus soup and the taste is fabulous.

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  4. Alanna,
    I make asparagus soup at the end of the season after saving the woody ends from previous asparagus repasts in the freeezer. The ends make a great stock.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous5/02/2008

    I have seen so many recipes say to break the stems off there it snaps easily. but it seems to snap any ware easily to me, so I usually just cut about 1/4 of the bottom.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I made this for lunch today (since Jeff and the kids are confirmed asparagus haters!) Seriously yummy! Thanks so much for sharing this one. My waistline thanks you too. Btw, it was really delicious with a hunk of Companion's Farm Bread dunked in it. Maybe I'm too much of a peasant for elegant after all.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous9/27/2008

    a samll tip when using the woody ends of the asparagus--do not use an immersion blender, as the stringy ends bind up the blade. Instead, use a potato masher, or berry masher, and strain the whole batch through a sieve into another pot in which you have done the onions and the celery--if used.

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  8. I love asparagus soup! Great site you have. I am adding you to my blogroll. Would you be interested in exchanging links?

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  9. Just made this (minus celery and balsamic vinegar—didn't have any) for my sick boyfriend. He loved it! I'd never made soup before, and your recipe was simple to follow. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sonia ~ Lucky boyfriend, getting hot soup to help him feel better. But lucky lucky LUCKY you, discovering how easy it is to make soup. I hope your success inspires many many more pots!

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  11. I just found this recipe. I'm confused. The recipe says to cut off the woody ends of the asparagus and use the tops. Later in the article, you talk about using the woody ends in soup.

    I live in North Dakota and a good soup is wonderful when it's cold outside. I love asparagus and look forward to making this soup once my asparagus starts growing next spring. Can I use the woody ends or should I use the tops?

    I just signed up to get your recipes emailed to me. I'm looking forward to those messages. Thanks for posting great recipes. Beth

    ReplyDelete
  12. Beth ~ Hi, great question, so sorry for the confusion. The answer is that when I first published the column, I stuck to the way I'd made the soup for several years, using just the tips. But then later, I realized how much waste there is when we throw away the woody ends and wondered if I could make soup with them. I could! So, as these things go, the recipe evolved over time, it's not stuck in time.
    The recipes on Kitchen Parade are ones I cook again and again so I often continue to play with them, adding more fiber, experimenting with whole grain flours, removing fat, switching to new spice profiles, etc. And so when I do, I add the notes so that others may benefit. I hope this helps!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous4/30/2010

    I loved your Easy to Elegant Asparagus soup. I chose it because I had been saving the woody ends of the asparagus. My husband had it with a dollop of sour cream, I had it without and we were both delighted. I used leftover chicken broth from a soup I had made earlier in the week. I love food-saving recipes, but they are rarely as tasty as this one.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Instead of blending the woody ends, you could boil them in your chicken stock for 15 minutes before adding it to the other ingredients. Adds the flavor but omits the "rustic" texture. :)

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  15. I wanted to add that I made this and it is INCREDIBLE. I couldn't believe how good it was after blending; no salt, pepper, yogurt or balsamic - those, of course, just made it more delicious. My first time making asparagus soup and I found the perfect recipe, thank you!

    ReplyDelete

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna