Soup-er Monday! Time for a fragrant, steaming cup of asparagus soup. Once you smell this rich and tasty soup you will never forget that fragrance. I’ve made the soup several times, including for our Christmas Eve buffet this year. We used green shot glasses and topped them with two croutons. The shooters were a hit!
Asparagus is definitely a seasonal vegetable. My P.S. (Personal Shopper/Spouse) brought home three bunches of fresh asparagus this week and I had to frown. I thought asparagus was a spring vegetable and it’s definitely still winter here up North. But perhaps it is spring somewhere. Somewhere far away! I’m happy; not only did we have lovely, green, steamed asparagus spears for dinner, I also had two pounds to make a new batch of roasted asparagus soup. (My supply in the freezer is nearly depleted!).
Asparagus is one of the vegetables I thought was too weird to eat as a kid. I didn’t grow into my love of asparagus until I was an adult. That was fine with my parents; they served asparagus to themselves and served my siblings and me corn or other vegetables. Asparagus was at a premium in our garden and not wasted on those who didn’t fully appreciate it.
I finally learned to love asparagus on our first wedding anniversary. My inlaws had sent us money to celebrate and we treated ourselves to a dinner at a fine dining kind of place in Ottumwa, Iowa. I ordered Steak Diane that came topped with four or five asparagus spears and some kind of sauce. It charmed me and my love of asparagus began.
I learned how to handle asparagus from a tv show. I don’t remember which one it was. I wash the spears well and, holding each spear one at a time, snap off the bottom. It will snap exactly where it begins to get woody and you can discard the bottom portion. Once you learn this trick it is a piece of cake. Make sure you are holding it down close to the bottom and just snap! Yes, sometimes you end up throwing out a lot of the bottom but it’s stringy and bitter anyway. You don’t want to eat that.
This asapargus soup recipe was one I found and adjusted for my own tastes. I rarely use fresh garlic cloves; I substitute garlic powder. I also added potatoes to the recipe as several recipes I read had included them. I made the recipe the first time without potatoes and it seemed lacking in depth. It was just a step above asparagus water. Including the potatoes added a heartiness to the soup it desperately needed, and it didn’t change the already perfect flavor.
I think thyme is a perfect match for asparagus. It’s not so strong that it overpowers the delicate taste of asparagus but it serves to enhance the green, healthy feeling to the soup. The lemon is just the right touch of acid to make the soup “pop”, as they say on all the cooking shows on TV. I like to sip the soup with a simple grilled cheese sandwich. Anything busier would make the soup seem lost or lacking.
I’ve made the soup several times and it was always nice and creamy. The most recent batch I had a lot of trouble with the asparagus being so stringy it was just clumping around my immersion blender blades and being a pest. I suspect some of the asparagus was too woody and was never going to be blended into creaminess. The soup is still great and we ignored the few strands of asparagus that survived three bouts of blending.
The soup does freeze well; it stores well in my bottles in the freezer. A couple of pinches of parmesan added to the heated cup of soup are also a nice touch to change it up.
Roasted Asparagus Soup
2 lbs asparagus; snapped, then cut into 2 inch pieces
1 large onion; chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons olive oil; divided
3 large potatoes; peeled, diced
6 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon thyme
1 cup half and half or heavy cream
1 tablespoon dry vermouth or dry sherry
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper; to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 F degrees.
In a bowl toss the asparagus with 2 tablespoons olive oil and spread on a foil covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for about 45 minutes.
In a large kettle put 2 tablespoons olive oil and the chopped onion. Saute until onions are translucent. Add chicken broth and potatoes, bring to boil. Turn heat down to medium and cook potatoes until they begin to soften. Add asparagus, garlic powder and thyme.
Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it is smooth. Once the soup is pureed, return the saucepan to the stove and bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Then lower heat to medium, and stir in half and half (or cream) and vermouth (optional). Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, and the lemon juice.
Tip: Add carrots and/or celery to make this soup extra hearty.
Note: I use sherry in the soup. It was also great without any alcohol. I used heavy cream and the calorie count includes it.