Cream of Asparagus Soup

May 20th, 2015 Posted by Appetizers, Soups No Comment yet

asparagus soup

The thing I love about cooking seasonally: there’s always something new just around the corner. The second I feel like roasted root vegetables are starting to get monotonous, things that are fresh and green appear and wake everything up. I like this quote from Gary Zukav: 

We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.

Food is a contribution to the conversation of the seasons. The food I love to cook is influenced by the time of year, the weather, the way the sun sets and the direction of the wind, and the food that comes out of the ground. It gives us the energy to play outside, to garden, to curl up with a book, to rest with a calm mind. Whatever tasks the season requires, the food of that season can fulfill. The joy of spring is lived that much deeply while munching on asparagus; winters cold is eased with steaming golden butternut squash. 

Oregon asparagus
This is a celebration of our short lived asparagus season, and it’s so delicate and rich.  

We had this soup warm the first time we ate it, but the cold leftovers were super refreshing after a warm spring day spent riding bikes and laying in hammocks. Hot or cold, it’s surprisingly light and refreshing, finishing silky and smooth with lots of asparagus flavor. The addition of potato also gives it some added body. I served it with poppy seed crackers and a dollop of greek yogurt with orange zest and juice added (recipe included with the soup). 

If you don’t have an immersion blender, I would recommend getting one. It makes pureeing soup, salad dressings, and sauces so easy and you actually end up with less to clean. It really makes my life easier and I say a silent word of gratitude that I have it every time I get it out for a job like this. 

blend up soup
The garnishes on this soup highlight the asparagus and the orange zest. A simple orange flavored yogurt and a few roasted asparagus spears are added. It was nice to something that was a bit of a texture difference. 

Orange yogurt is used as a lighter alternative to sour cream or creme fraiche. It’s fat free, easy to make, and adds a subtle sweet citrus note that goes really well with the asparagus. Roasting the extra asparagus is optional. I found it easy to throw in the toaster oven for about 8 minutes, and it was much less fussy then I imagined. 

I have tried a lot of different brands of Greek yogurt. Tillamook’s Farmstyle Greek (0% milkfat) is by far, the richest, thickest and best tasting one I’ve tried. I’m addicted. The other reason I like Tillamook over other brands: rBST free and made in Oregon, with no strange ingredients and not a ton of sugar. I have added this to so many things: salad dressings, enchiladas, garlic sauce for these sweet potato burgers that have become a favorite around here, and just recently: a casserole! It is so versatile and delicious. 

asparagus soup-9
This soup is a light lunch, a first course for dinner, or even an appetizer if served in small bowls or shot glasses. The important thing is that it’s enjoyed and remembered that spring only comes once a year. Just like the bees in the garden, buzzing about with or without you to watch them, the Earth keeps turning and seasons change without us willing them to do our bidding. It’s gone, before you know it, and we have only to look forward to the next conversation to begin.

asparagus soup

Cream of Asparagus Soup
 
Recipe Type: Soup, Appetizer
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds asparagus, fatter stalks if possible, trimmed (see note)
  • 4-8 stalks thin asparagus, for garnish
  • 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped white or yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion or 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic (about one garlic clove)
  • 2 teaspoons minced orange zest
  • 1 cup 1-inch diced russet potatoes
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken stock
  • 4 fresh mint leaves (optional)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • —————————————-
  • Orange Yogurt Garnish
  • 1 cup greek non-fat yogurt
  • zest of 1 orange
  • juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave syrup, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Wash the asparagus well, then cut into 3-inch pieces, all the way to the tip. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a dutch oven (or your favorite pot for soup) over medium heat. Add both kinds of onions and cook, stirring, for 5-7 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, orange zest, potatoes, and broth. Bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the asparagus and return to a simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes more, or until just tender.
  3. Add in the mint leaves, and using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. If you want to use a blender, puree the soup in batches, returning to the pot when fully blended. Add in the cream and heat until hot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the orange yogurt garnish. You can also make the yogurt a day ahead of time and refrigerate until serving the soup. To make the asparagus garnish, heat the oven or small toaster oven to 400 degrees. Trim the asparagus and place on a small baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 8-10 minutes, or until slightly caramelized but still firm.
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls, then dollop with the yogurt. Serve with poppyseed crackers if desired.
 
Notes
Asparagus can be woody and fibrous at its root end. The trick is, the amount you need to trim off can vary depending on the stalk itself. To find out how much to trim a bunch of asparagus, take one spear with the end in one hand and the tip in the other. Hold it in front of you and bend the tip end towards the root end. The asparagus stalk will snap where it is still tender, leaving the woody part for the compost (or homemade stock) bin. Do this with 3-4 stalks. Line up those stalks with the remaining stalks in your bunch of asparagus. Use these as a guide to trim the rest of them more quickly by just cutting with a knife so that the entire bunch is about as long as the hand-snapped stalks. You could do each stalk by hand, but I’ve found that this method still results in tender and tasty spears and is accomplished faster.

Resources:

Recipe adapted from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table
Immersion blender, Cuisinart, Amazon
My favorite Greek yogurt, Tillamook Farmsyle Greek

Other recipes I’ve made from Kathy Casey’s book you might like: 
Poppy seed crackers
Salted chocolate mint ice cream

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