When a Swedish friend offered me some homemade asparagus soup my first reaction was to think, “Oh dear what a waste of lovely fresh asparagus”. But in the end I had to admit it really was rather good and worth making.
There are two recipes below: one for green and the other for white. Until about thirty years ago most of the asparagus grown in Sweden was white, but green is more common these days. First up is a recipe for green asparagus soup, for the recipe for white asparagus soup click here.
Despite my initial misgivings, I now think that asparagus soup is well worth making. It also freezes well, so make extra and pop some in the freezer for later in the year when the asparagus season is over. John Duxbury
• The soup can also be served chilled.
• Instead of cooking the reserved spears, as in step 12, steam them for 3-4 minutes and add them as a garnish.
|450 g||(1 lb)||green asparagus spears|
|700 ml||(3 cups)||good quality vegetable or chicken stock|
|1||small onion, finely chopped|
|30 g||(2 tbsp)||butter|
|1 tbsp||plain (all-purpose) flour|
|120 ml||(½ cup)||dry white wine (optional)|
|120 ml||(½ cup)||whipping cream|
|salt and freshly ground black pepper|
|2 tbsp||lemon juice, about half a lemon|
|4 tbsp||cream or crème fraîche|
1. Rinse the spears thoroughly to remove any grit or soil.
2. Break off the tough white ends of the stalks. Peel any very thick spears using a potato peeler. (This is usually only necessary with very thick spears.)
3. Place the tough spear ends and any peelings in a saucepan and add the vegetable or chicken stock. Boil the mixture for 5 minutes. Strain the liquid off into a jug and reserve. Discard the peelings and stalk ends.
4. Pick out your 8 nicest looking spears to use later as a garnish.
5. Chop the remaining asparagus spears into 2-3 cm (1”) lengths.
6. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a gentle heat and cook the chopped onion for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, until it is softened without colouring.
7. Stir the chopped asparagus into the onion mixture, then put a lid on and let it sweat for about 10 minutes, giving it a stir now and then.
8. Sprinkle in a tablespoon of flour and stir thoroughly.
9. Add the saved liquid, a little at a time, stirring after each addition.
10. When all the liquid has been added, add the white wine and the whipping cream and season with salt and pepper. Keeping the heat low, let the soup barely simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes.
11. Let the soup cool a bit and then pour it into a blender and puree until smooth. Add the lemon juice and stir thoroughly. Adjust the seasoning.
12. Add the reserved asparagus spears and re-heat gently for 3-4 minutes until the spears are cooked, but still with some bite.
13. Pour into warm bowls, garnish each dish with a tablespoon of cream or crème fraîche and a little freshly milled black pepper.
This recipe also serves 4 and makes a delightful lunch if served with some good crusty sourdough bread.
Above: "Continental" spring onions
|450 g||(1 lb)||white asparagus|
|3-4||"continental" spring onions, including the green tops|
|1||small bunch of herbs, ideally tarragon and parsley|
|120 ml||(½ cup)||dry white wine|
|250 ml||(1 cup)||good quality vegetable stock|
|4||cloves of garlic (peeled) or a small bunch of wild garlic leaves|
|1 tbsp||sea salt|
|1 tbsp||black pepper|
|180 ml||(¾ cup)||whipping cream|
|1||small bunch of chives, chopped|
|wild garlic or chives flowers to garnish|
1. Rinse the asparagus spears and cut off the tips, setting aside for later.
2. Chop the rest of the asparagus into small pieces and add to a saucepan.
3. Rinse and chop the celery and onions, including the green tops, and add to the saucepan.
4. Pick the leaves off the herbs and set aside for later. Add the stalks to the saucepan.
5. Add the wine, vegetable stock, garlic, bay leaf, salt, pepper and sugar.
6. Bring the mixture to a boil and the simmer gently for an hour or so until the vegetables are very soft.
7. Remove the bay leaf then whizz the soup in a food processor until smooth.
8. Push the mixture through a sieve.
9. Reheat the soup with the cream and reserved asparagus tips for 5 minutes or so until the asparagus tips are tender.
10. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
11. Lightly whisk and pour into warm bowls. Add the reserved herb leaves, chopped chives and garnish with wild garlic flowers or chive flowers* if desired.
*To garnish with chive flowers, turn a chive flower upside down then, using a pair of scissors, snip off each of the florets, cutting off as much as possible of each little green stem. One chive flower is likely to provide between 30-40 individual florets, enough to garnish two bowls of soup.
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