Springtime means asparagus. We won’t have any local asparagus here in Colorado for a while yet. But, it’s turning up at bargain prices in the supermarket (some weeks as low as $1.50/pound). We love asparagus roasted, steamed, and grilled. Here it is featured in a fresh-tasting soup. It gets some thickness from the potato, which means you don’t need to use a lot of cream. The lemon keeps it bright and light.
I like to buy thick spears of asparagus and for this recipe, that is the best choice. You’ll be peeling them and it’s pretty dang hard to peel a skinny stalk of asparagus! If you don’t peel the asparagus, you’ll have a bunch of stringy fibers that don’t purée well. If you have a really good blender, like a VitaMix (I don’t, but I used them when I worked in restaurants), no worries. It can handle the peels. My blender isn’t that effective, so I make sure to peel the stalks.
Cream of Asparagus Soup with Lemon
1 ½ pounds asparagus
5 cups low-sodium chicken stock
4 medium shallots, peeled and minced
1 medium baking potato, peeled and cut into ½” dice
¾ cup heavy cream
salt and black pepper
Trim off about ½” of the bottom of the asparagus stalks. Peel the lower ⅔’s of each stalk. Cut off the tips and set aside. Cut the rest of the stalks into 1″ lengths. Set aside in a bowl.
Zest the lemons and put the zest in the bowl with the asparagus stalk pieces. Add the shallots and the potato. Juice 1 lemon and set aside the juice.
In a medium soup pot, heat up the stock. Cook the asparagus tips in the stock for 2-3 minutes, until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add asparagus stalks, shallots, zest, and potato to the stock. Cook for 30 minutes until the potato and asparagus are very tender.
Blend the contents of the pot until smooth. You can use an immersion blender right in the soup pot or you can transfer the soup, in batches, to a blender. Return the puréed soup to the pot. Add the cream and reheat until hot but not boiling. Stir in the lemon juice, salt (how much will depend on your palate and the type of stock you use), and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
Serve with the reserved asparagus tips as garnish.
Adapted from 300 Sensational Soups by Carla Snyder & Meredith Deeds, Robert Rose, Inc., 2008.