We mentioned in our post last Friday that we celebrated my wife’s birthday at Ella’s in Sacramento. During our dinner we both ordered their asparagus soup. One thing we both noticed right away and really liked was that they left some of the asparagus stems as a garnish. This left a nice crunch in the cream soup that we both enjoyed. We were inspired to make our own version at home.
Barbara Kingsolver talks about asparagus in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. What I didn’t realize about asparagus is that it is the very first spring vegetable. Even more amazing is that asparagus plants only look like the asparagus we’d recognize at the farmers’ market for one day a year. As soon as the spears show up, you have to cut them. This means that fat spears and skinny spears are simply random. If you don’t cut the spears the day they arrive then, as Barbara describes, “each triangular scale on the spear rolls out into a branch, until [the spear] becomes a four-foot tree with delicate needles.” Lastly, asparagus is one of the few plants we eat that is a perennial. If treated well and not cut too aggressively it will produce for many seasons.
America’s Test Kitchen is one of our go to recipe books. We really like that they take the time to try out many different methods and products and provide some side bars with other cooking tips and suggestions. For this cream of asparagus soup recipe I followed the Americas Test Kitchen recipe but reserved six asparagus stalks for the garnish and skipped the flour.
- 1 1/2 lbs fresh asparagus
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons softened butter
- 1 onion, minced
- Salt and pepper
Ready to cook? Lolo was!
Chop six or so of your asparagus stalks into medium pieces and set them to the side. Finely chop the remaining asparagus stalks.
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion until tender. Add the broth and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Add the finely chopped asparagus only and simmer for another 10 mins until the asparagus is tender.
Puree the soup in small batches. A food processor works fine and so does the small blender we used which is built for shakes. Return the pureed soup to the pot and add the heavy cream. Add salt and pepper to taste, then bring the soup back to a brief simmer before removing from the heat.
Grab the remainings stalks you chopped into medium sized pieces and add them to a pan with a little water. Heat the water in the pan to boiling and quickly boil the asparagus. Two minutes should be plenty, you don’t want to kill the crunch.
Dish up the soup and add a few asparagus chunks to each bowl. Americas Test Kitchen says you will serve 6 to 8. We had two dinner sized bowls of soup.
Local Ingredients Used
Tony’s Fruit Stand Asparagus and Onions – Marysville, CA