Earlier this week, my aunt mentioned that she wanted to find a good asparagus soup recipe. The asparagus available right now is really amazing (if you hadn't noticed, it's been in pretty much everything I've made this month), so I figured I'd test one out.
Omar inspects all ingredients before we begin cooking; his high standards are often a point of contention between us. Note the shredded paper towel in the top-right corner; he prefers it that way.
I chose the Cream of Asparagus Soup from Epicurious.com because reviewers seemed to love it (though some were adding questionable ingredients) and it was pretty simple and to-the-point.
I like vegetable soups because I can pretend they are healthy. Green food is good for you. It doesn't matter if the shade of green happens to be wonderfully pale from copious amounts of creme fraiche, right? It also doesn't matter that I decided to cook my shallots in bacon fat, right? Or that I decided then to garnish the soup not with the asparagus tips recommended in the recipe, but with the pieces of fried bacon and some old cheddar (further proving my hypothesis that there isn't anything bacon can't improve)?
While I was making it, Simon mentioned that it was odd that there were no carrots or celery or leeks (Simon gets outraged over a missing mirepoix). I used shallots instead of onions (because they are fancy and delightfully French sounding), and whipping cream instead of creme fraiche (because I already had some. Should I be concerned that whipping cream has a permanent spot in my fridge?).
The soup was nice. It was quick, easy, and asparagus-y. But it wasn't very thick and was missing the richness that I expect in my creamed soups. Some of the people who commented on the recipe on Epicurious suggested adding a potato, but I think there was just way too much chicken broth (5 cups!). And Simon might be right, a mirepoix might really be worth adding.
Cream of Asparagus Soup
2 pounds green asparagus
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 to 6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Cut tips from 12 asparagus
1 1/2 inches from top and halve tips lengthwise if thick. Reserve for garnish.
Cut stalks and all remaining asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.
Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add asparagus pieces and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add 5 cups broth and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
While soup simmers, cook reserved asparagus tips in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain.
Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth, transferring to a bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids), and return to pan. Stir in crème fraîche, then add more broth to thin soup to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Bring soup to a boil and whisk in remaining tablespoon butter.
Add lemon juice and garnish with asparagus tips.
Cooks' note: ·Soup keeps, covered and chilled, 2 days. If making ahead, add last tablespoon butter and lemon juice after reheating.