Spring Asparagus Soup
My love for cooking and my love for the man who would become my husband both had their origin in Washington, D.C. in the spring of 1989. Today’s recipe is one of the first things I made for Paul. Newly in possession of the quintessential 80s cookbook – The Silver Palate – I selected their cream of asparagus soup for a supper al fresco, served on a rickety café table on the back patio of my rented Capitol Hill townhouse.
Paul said it dawned on him that evening that if I could make asparagus taste that good, he saw promise in the relationship.
In the 32 springs since, I’ve served up as many of the splendid verdant spears as I can. Roasted on a sheet pan with olive oil and garlic, they’re the ideal side dish to ham or chicken, and Easter is absolutely not complete without blanched and marinated asparagus with shallots and Dijon vinaigrette.
But this asparagus soup—which I’ve personalized a bit with the additions of garlic and lemon–remains a family favorite, not just for sentimental reasons. Admittedly, the copious chopping, simmering, then blending, then simmering again make it a relatively heavy lift. But, like a good marriage, some things are worth the work.
The author in 1989 with her then boyfriend, and the asparagus soup that got it all started.
Come, Lovely SpringCourse: EntreesDifficulty: Easy
4 cups chopped yellow onions
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 stick butter
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock (I like Costco organic or Kitchen Basics)
2 pounds asparagus
Salt and pepper
- Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and simmer until very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring intermittently.
- Add chicken stock to the onions and bring to a boil.
- While that’s going on, wash the asparagus. Snap off the woody bottoms of each stalk (asparagus broken by hand toward the bottom of each stalk should snap off at just the right spot), about 2 inches off of each stalk. Discard woody ends.
- Snap off the tender tips (about ¾ in) and set aside for later in the recipe.
- Then, cut the remaining ‘middle stalks,’ which are probably now about 6-8” in length, into ¼ inch pieces.
- Add the chopped asparagus stalks (not the tips) to the boiling stock, salt and pepper to taste.
- Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 45 minutes, or until asparagus is very soft.
- Being very careful and working in batches, transfer soup to a blender and blend until smooth. You may require a large bowl here to transfer batches of blended soup. Important not to fill blender all the way to the top. You do not want an exploding blender of scalding hot liquid.
- Transfer the blended soup back into the large pot, and then add reserved asparagus tips.
- Simmer an additional 10 minutes, until tips are tender.
- Squeeze in half a lemon, and stir to combine.
- This soup is delicious served hot, and equally good cold the next day. If serving cold, a swirl of sour cream or heavy cream is a nice addition!