I was so happy to see asparagus back in the supermarket a couple of weeks ago – and at record low prices. And so, of course, in all of my delirium, I overbought. We had asparagus coming out of our ears and there was an urgent need to figure out what to do with it all, and here is the happy result. This soup has tons of fresh asparagus, and I mean everywhere. The soup itself is loaded, the asparagus tops are roasted and used for garnish, and some of the stalks are peeled into ‘noodles’ using a regular old vegetable peeler and tossed into the hot soup at the last minute. This is a game changer, adding some appreciated texture to this creamy concoction as well as an additional flavor boost. Oh yeah – then we’ve got rich and creamy crème fraiche to drizzle over the whole thing. After all, we do need our calcium.Since the main character in this story is the asparagus, we shall start there. Each spear gets special attention: first, just take the tiniest bit of asparagus rump off – this is the dry, tough end. Second, measure up about 2 inches from the new rump and cut at that point. These are tough ends that you will use in the broth if you make your own. If you would prefer to skip this step, just sneak into your pantry and get a couple of cans of chicken or vegetable stock. If you want to make your own, however, it’s pretty easy. In a Dutch oven or stock pot, throw in the new asparagus rumps, some sliced onions, celery stalks, a couple of smashed cloves of garlic, salt and peppercorns. This gets simmered for about half an hour or until the vegetables have given up the ghost and are softened. Strain and you have broth.
When your stock is done, about 6 cups go into the Dutch oven and all of your middle asparagus pieces go in all at once. Crank up the heat and let them simmer in that liquid until just softened. If they go too far they lose that pretty green and end up looking like that carpet we used to have in our living room when that awful olive color was all the rage. I think that was in the 70’s. We do not want to revisit that in our soup thank you very much. When the asparagus is done, we toss in a couple of cups of thawed green peas for color, to help thicken this creation, and for another spring flavor boost. Blend this all up and you have soup!
Good on it’s own for sure, but adding some other elements will make us all happy. I like richness in a soup, so made some creme fraiche the night before and swirled it in. Feel free to use a free and generous hand when adding your own.
A textural element is also desirable, so I grabbed a vegetable peeler out of the drawer and peeled about 10 asparagus stalks to make noodles. It’s very fun and takes all of a minute to accomplish. The idea here is to pile a nice bunch on top of your hot soup, swirl around and watch them soften into ribbons. You can also stir the whole bunch into the soup pot at the last minute if you’d rather go that route.
And also, if you’d like even more fancy stuff in there, the recipe includes ideas for roasting the asparagus tips and some radishes for garnish. Enough talking already! We built it, now let’s eat it!If you like a creamier soup, stir in some cream, half and half, or milk. I also like this with a big old handful of grated cheese either stirred in or sprinkled on top, and let’s not forget a nice big pat of butter.
Hope you enjoy. Happy almost spring!! xoxo
- FOR THE SOUP
- 5 bunches asparagus
- 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
- FOR THE BROTH
- 6 cups asparagus or vegetable broth. NOTE: If you’d like to use store bought vegetable broth – no problem. If you’d like to make some asparagus broth, here’s what you’ll need:
- Trimmed asparagus ends from the amount already listed above
- ½ yellow or white onion, cut into 4 pieces (it’s fine to leave the onion skin on)
- 4-5 celery stalks (feel free to use those inner stalks with leaves on for this)
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- FOR THE ASPARGUS NOODLES
- About 1 bunch of the asparagus already listed in the ‘For the Soup’ section above
- FOR THE CRÈME FRAICHE
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt (whole milk or 2% is fine)
- FOR OPTIONAL GARNISH
- Asparagus tips from the asparagus bunches already listed above
- 1 bunch radishes, washed and halved
- THE DAY BEFORE…
- Make the crème fraiche by mixing the whipping cream and yogurt into a glass bowl or measuring cut until very well blended. Cover with plastic wrap and store in a warm place overnight (my favorite spot is on top of the water heater). You will be so happy the next morning when you see the mixture has thickened to the consistency of sour cream, and has a creamy, very slightly sour taste.
- SOUP DAY! TO BEGIN
- Prepare the asparagus:
- Cut off about ¼ inch off the bottom of each stalk and discard. Soak the asparagus spears in cold water and swirl them around to make sure any sand or dirt is removed.
- Cut the bottom 2 inches off of each stock – these pieces are the ‘asparagus ends’ that go into your stock mixture.
- Cut the tip off of each stalk. Set aside.
- Grab about 10 remaining stalks and peel them into thin ‘noodles’, using a vegetable peeler. Set aside.
- Cut the remaining stalk pieces into thirds and set aside.
- FOR THE BROTH
- In a large Dutch oven, combine asparagus ends, onion, celery, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover with cold water (shoot for a good 6 cups of water for this), bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cooking until vegetables or soft, about 30 minutes. Drain off vegetables and reserve broth until needed.
- FOR THE SOUP
- Pour 6 cups of reserved broth into a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, and then add the asparagus pieces that you have cut into thirds all at once. Reduce heat and simmer until the asparagus is just tender – keep your eyes on it because overcooked asparagus turns an unappealing color which you will not like). You’ll want to check it at about 5 minutes, then every couple of minutes until done. When asparagus is tender, turn off the burner and stir in the peas.
- Blend in very small batches in a blender until smooth. Return to Dutch oven, check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- FOR THE OPTIONAL GARNISHES
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- On a cookie sheet covered with foil and sprayed with cooking spray, lay the radishes cut side down. Drizzle with olive oil and lightly salt. On the same cookie sheet, lay the asparagus tips you have reserved (I think it looks cool to cut them in half also but up to you). Roast until asparagus is tender and remove it from the cookie sheet. The radishes will take a little bit longer, so leave them in just until you can pierce them with a paring knife.
- TO SERVE
- Heat until warmed through and hot, but do not boil it or it will look like it’s separated a little bit.
- Ladle into bowls and add a generous drizzle of crème fraiche to each bowl.
- Pile a nice bunch of asparagus noodles on top and swirl around. They will soften in the hot broth.
- Serve with asparagus tips and roasted radishes if you like.