Now that asparagus is available all year round, it’s easy to forget that this vegetable was once a true harbinger of spring. But, just a few
years decades ago, when I was growing up, asparagus was really only seasonally available and quite expensive compared to other vegetables. My frugal mom bought it only for the most special occasions, like Easter.
If you are looking for an elegant starter course for your Easter dinner or another event this spring, give this delicious soup a try. It’s luscious and creamy and delivers so much asparagus flavor.
Or treat yourself on an ordinary work night with a big bowl of soup, a couple of warm rolls and a good glass of Sauvignon Blanc. That’s what I did!
(Want to make it extra, extra special? Add a scoop of crabmeat to each bowl before serving.)
- 3 lb. fresh asparagus
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
- 1 cup finely chopped leeks, white parts only, rinsed well
- 2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
- 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper (more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp. salt (more to taste)
- 1/2 cup half-n-half
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Snap off the woody stems from each asparagus spear and set aside. Trim the attractive tips from each spear and set aside. Cut the remaining tender stalks into 1/2 inch pieces and set aside.
- In a medium pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the tough woody asparagus stems. Reduce heat to low and simmer the stems to infuse their flavor into the broth – about 20 minutes. Remove the stems with a slotted spoon and discard them. Reserve the broth.
- Bring the broth back to a boil and add the asparagus tips. Blanch the tips just until they are tender – about 1 minute. Remove the tips from the stock with a slotted spoon to an ice water bath. When tips are completely cool drain and set aside. Reserve the stock.
- In a second medium stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat. When butter begins to foam, add the leeks and shallots. Sauté for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute.
- Add the chopped asparagus stalks, white pepper, and reserved chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the asparagus is very tender.
- With an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor, puree the soup until it is smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Just before serving, stir in the half-n-half and most of the asparagus tips (reserve a few for garnishing the bowls).
- Ladle hot soup into bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of cheese and a few asparagus tips.