Asparagus Summer Soup

On 23 June 2012 by Jessica

It’s time to remind you about this fabulous summer recipe – one of the few things I actually cook – that will let you enjoy the flavor of asparagus long after they’ve disappeared from the market. Enjoy!

One of the things I used to appreciate most about travel was how the food I focused on was all about the season. Sure, there are supermarkets the world over now, but when I first went to France the best food was the stuff that was in season right then, when I was eating it. It’s a concept that should have sunk in much sooner – eat what’s fresh – but it took me a few more years to really embrace it at home. After all, when you can get asparagus year-round at the local Safeway, what are seasons, anyway?

Thankfully, I know better now.



These days, the start of my local farmer’s market means two things. First, a return to the heady days of donuts-as-Saturday-breakfast thanks to the family that’s been making fresh donuts at the market for something like nine years now. Second, it means asparagus. There’s one booth that sells those tiny asparagus, the ones that everyone describes by holding up their pinky finger, and that’s the booth I go to. I look forward to those tiny asparagus all fall and winter long, and am always sad it’s such a short window when we can get them.

The good news is that many years ago I picked up a recipe for asparagus soup from the people who run the asparagus stand, and by making a huge batch of it early in the summer and freezing it, I get to enjoy the taste of fresh asparagus well into the winter.

The recipe I’m posting here is modified from the original, mostly because I’m lazy and adding lettuce to the finished soup didn’t sound appealing to me – so I just skipped it from the get-go. I also don’t measure the asparagus I’m putting in the soup – I use two bunches of what the stand at my local market sells. This, I realize, is not a measurement. So I’m leaving the original measurements for asparagus in the recipe below – feel free to add more asparagus for an even more, umm, asparagus-y? taste.

Enjoy the summer while you can, folks. And freeze some of it for later in the year.

Asparagus Summer Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed & peeled (the baby asparagus doesn’t need to be peeled)
  • 5 tbls unsalted butter
  • 2 leeks, white part only and 2 inches of the green – thinly sliced and well-washed – about 3 cups
  • 5 c chicken broth
  • 1 lb fresh spinach, stemmed, washed & dried
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2.5 tbls all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 1 c fresh or frozen peas
  • 1/2 – 1 c heavy cream or milk

Directions:

  1. Cut asparagus stalks into one-inch pieces, reserve tips separately.
  2. Heat 2 tbls butter in heavy saucepan or Dutch oven.
  3. Add leeks and 1/3 c broth; cover and cook over medium heat until the stalks of the leeks are tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add asparagus stalks. Cover and cook 3 minutes.
  5. Add remaining broth, and bring to boiling.
  6. Lower the heat and simmer until asparagus is very tender, about 10-12 minutes.
  7. Add 2 packed cups of spinach (reserve remaining spinach for step 5) and the sugar to the saucepan. Cook until spinach is tender, about 5 minutes.
  8. Working in batches, place liquid and solids in food processor. Whirl until very smooth. Set aside. (Note – instead of transferring everything to a food processor, if you have one of those submersible stick-blender things, they work fantastically well. Just take the pot off the heat and whirl away. CAUTION: Be VERY careful about the hot liquid splashing up at you when you’re blending it! Never pick the stick-blender up while it’s whirling, or you’ll spray yourself and get burned.) When you’ve got the mixture well blended, pour it into a separate bowl and set it aside while you work on the next steps.
  9. Heat remaining butter in saucepan. Whisk in flour until well blended. Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute – don’t let it brown.
  10. Whisk in the pureed soup mixture until it’s blended. Bring to a boil. Season with salt & pepper, and lower the heat.
  11. Add the peas and simmer until barely tender – 5 minutes, or less if they’re frozen.
  12. Add the asparagus tips and simmer until they’re tender, about 5 minutes.
  13. Add heavy cream and heat thoroughly – do not boil. Stir in remaining spinach. Gently heat – do not boil.

Here’s the genius part – make the soup through step 12 on the list above, put the (cooled) soup into freezer containers, and pop them into the freezer. Then, in mid-winter, defrost the soup mixture and pick up at step 13, adding the cream (or, frankly, milk works just fine). Instant summer in a cozy, cozy bowl.

Number Of Servings: about 8 (approx 9 cups)

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