Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Creamy Asparagus Soup

Last month, I posted about a silky, creamy tomato bisque that I made for my birthday.  Truth be told, I've never really been a fan of thin almost drinkable soups.  For me, soups had to have some substance or chunks to make it a hearty meal.  But my views changed after that bisque and I started to envision other beautiful puree'd soups.

Fast-forward to this weekend when Asparagus was a good price at Whole Foods.  I picked-up about 2 pounds, thinking maybe I'll roast half and turn the other half into a creamy, velvety soup.  When I placed the milk delivery order this week (we have old-fashioned glass bottle milk delivery service), I tacked-on a pint of half & half and planned to make the soup tonight for dinner.  It was delicious!  And we finished the whole pot between my wife and I.

I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as we did.

Creamy Asparagus Soup
Makes 4-6 Meal-Sized Servings

Note: The step of putting it through a fine-mesh strainer is frankly a bit of a pain and totally optional.  However, it does make the difference between a velvety soup and one that's a little gritty--especially with asparagus.  And don't skip the butter.  It gives it a little something extra in texture and flavor that you don't directly notice but it's obvious something is missing when it's gone.

2 pounds thin asparagus
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup white wine
water or chicken stock, heated to a simmer
3/4 cup of half & half or heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper

  1. Wash the asparagus and trim off the woody ends.  If all you can find is thick asparagus, consider peeling the bottom third of each stalk with a vegetable peeler to make straining the soup easier.  Slice into thin rounds.
  2. In a large pot, saute the asparagus and onion in olive oil with a heavy pinch of salt until it begins to soften.  Add the garlic and cook a moment until the garlic softens.
  3. Add the white wine and simmer a minute or two until the harsh alcohol smell goes away.
  4. Add enough water or stock to cover the vegetables completely.  Bring to a low boil and cook until all the vegetables are completely soft.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat.  Using an immersion blender or a jar blender, puree the soup until it's as smooth as you can get it.
  6. Working in batches, pour the soup into a fine-mesh sieve.  Using the back of a ladle or large spoon, press the soup through the sieve until only a little bit of fibrous material remains.  Scrape the bottom of the sieve to make sure all the pulp that passed through ends-up in the bowl.
  7. Return the soup to the pot and bring to a simmer.  Stir-in cream and butter until it is well incorporated.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  If the soup is too too thin and watery, simmer a bit until it thickens.
We like to serve this soup in a shallow bowl with cheesy toast, croutons, or soup crackers, and a dollop of sour cream in the center.  A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese never hurt, either.

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