Creamy Asparagus Soup

Creamy Asparagus Soup

You can use either thick or thin asparagus spears. This soup is also
delicious served cold.

Makes 7 to 8 cups;

serves 8

2 lb. asparagus
31/2 T bs. unsalted butter
2 small ribs celery, coarsely
chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large yellow onion, coarsely
chopped (about 2 cups)
1 large leek, trimmed, halved
lengthwise, thoroughly
rinsed, and thinly sliced
crosswise (keep dark green
parts separate from light
green and white parts)
8 whole peppercorns
5 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
K osher salt
2 medium cloves garlic,
1 large or 3 small red potatoes
(about 1/2 lb.), peeled and
cut into 1/2-inch dice
(1 heaping cup)
1/4 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground white

  1. Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus, but don’t discard them.
    Cut about 11/2 inches of the tips off the asparagus spears and cut the
    spears crosswise in thirds; set the spears and tips aside separately.
  2. Melt 11/2 Tbs. of the butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-low
    heat. Add the tough asparagus ends, about half of the celery, the
    onion, and the dark green parts of the leek. Cook uncovered, stirring
    occasionally, until the vegetables look very soft, about 30 minutes (if
    the vegetables show any sign of browning, reduce the heat to low).
    Add 6 cups cold water and the peppercorns, parsley, thyme, and 1/2 tsp.
    salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium low,
    cover, and simmer for 30 minutes to make a flavorful vegetable stock.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a 2-quart pot of salted water to a boil over high
    heat. Add the asparagus tips and cook until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
    Drain in a colander, shower with cold water to stop the cooking, and
    drain again. Set aside.
  4. In another 3-quart (or larger) saucepan, melt the remaining 2 Tbs.
    butter over medium-low heat. Add the white and light green sliced
    leeks and the remaining celery and season with a generous pinch
    of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks look soft but not
    browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
    Add the asparagus spears and the potato.
  5. Set a wire-mesh sieve over the pot and pour in the stock from the
    other pot; discard the solids. Stir well and bring to a boil over high heat.
    Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook at a lively simmer
    until the potatoes and asparagus are very tender, about 20 minutes.
    Turn off the heat and let cool slightly.
  6. Purée the soup in a blender in batches. Return the puréed soup to
    the soup pot, add the cream, and stir well. Reheat the soup gently over
    medium-low heat. Season to taste with more salt and a large pinch
    of white pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls or soup plates and scatter
    in the asparagus tips, distributing them evenly among the servings.
    —Ruth Lively


Asparagus 101:

Asparagus is commonly sold in bundles
of about a pound standing upright in a
tray of water. Choose fresh-looking, firm
spears with tight tips. Smell them first to
make sure they don’t give off an unpleasant
odor (if they do, they’re old). Check
the cut ends of the stalks; they should be
moist, not dried out. If dried ends are all
that’s available, cut about half an inch off
the bottom. To make sure they stay fresh,
stand asparagus bundles in about an inch
of water in a jar or a shallow tray and keep
them in the refrigerator. Cook the spears
within 2 or 3 days.