I almost always buy asparagus when I’m in a supermarket. We eat a ton of it. It’s hugely healthy and we think it’s mighty tasty. It’s heart healthy and hugely full of folic acid. You might ask – who gives two *@$#’s for folic acid. Well, folic acid is plays an important role in heart health and in preventing Alzheimer’s – according to some research. Patients who die of Alzheimer’s Disease have little or no folic acid in their system. Reason enough to stock up then.
Asparagus is low in calories and is very low in sodium. It is a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamine, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid, iron, phosphorus,potassium, copper, manganese and selenium, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells. Phew. That’s a long list. Aside all that it’s damn tasty stuff.
Unfortunately I find that most times I have asparagus it’s over cooked. A shame. We tend to trim it aggressively, I usually almost cut the stalks in half. That does away with the woody bits. This means I can steam them for three to four minutes and the remaining stalks are perfect. No stringy bits, no woody bits, not mushy and gross – just asparagus perfection. I’ve been trying to figure out what might be something else I could do with asparagus and asparagus soup came to mind. I culled through a few recipes, did some experimenting, and came up with the following recipe. I made a half batch because there’s just two of us. That left us with probably four servings total. And those are smaller servings – don’t think giant bowl of Campbell’s soup. Think small bowl of rich and tasty nectar. That’s more along the right lines.
To begin you need to trim the asparagus into three distinct sections. I cut off the very tips and put them in a bowl for safe keeping. I trim the woody bottom portions off (again almost cutting the stalks in half) and place them aside. The middle sections are going to get chopped up into smaller bits – eventually making the “body” of the soup.
For a full batch you’re going to need three pounds of asparagus. That’s a lot of asparagus. Another reason I made half a batch. I’m going to continue with the full batch but if you’re looking at my pictures and saying “what gives?” – you’ll know.
In a big pot you’ll want to get eight cups of chicken broth heating. Vegetable broth is great if you’re vegetarian. I have no qualms with that and it’ll be just as tasty. Whatever you’re using – that’s two quarts. Bring that to a boil and add the woody bottom parts of the asparagus. Drop the heat down and simmer for twenty to thirty minutes. You want to get as much of the asparagus flavor from the woody bits as you can. After about a half hour I used a slotted spoon and scooped all the gnarly bottom bits out and tossed them in the trash.
Find the very tips of the asparagus you cut off first thing and set those into the still simmering asparagus infused stock. Let these blanch for about a minute and a half. Just long enough to get tender. Use the same slotted spoon and remove these – letting them drain onto a paper towel.
In a separate pan, add three or four tablespoons of butter and let that get good and hot. If you’re going for a vegetarian soup feel free to use olive oil, it works just as nicely. Add one half a diced onion or a two decent sized diced shallots. Allow to cook on a medium-high heat until tender – just a few minutes. Add the diced portion of asparagus, one tablespoon of diced garlic (maybe two or three cloves), and salt and pepper to taste. Let these saute for about two minutes. Add this mixture – butter/oil and all – into the stock. Allow the asparagus to simmer until very tender, somewhere around 15 to 20 minutes should do it.
You can use a blender, immersion blender, or food processor for the next bit. Dump the stock and asparagus mix into your chosen appliance and blend/process until smooth.
If you’re going to eat this immediately then add 1/3 cup of heavy cream to the mix and mix and serve immediately. Grate some fresh Reggiano Parmesan over the top. Serve with some bread. It’s a very rich, healthy, and filling soup. If you’re saving it to serve till later, omit the cream and cheese. Store in the fridge. Gently reheat the soup over medium-low heat before serving and add the cream and cheese right before you plate it.
For enough soup to serve 8 or more, you’ll need the following:
- 3 Pounds of Asparagus
- 8 Cups of Chicken Stock
- 1 Cup of Diced Onion/Shallot
- 1 Tablespoon Diced Garlic
- 4 Tablespoons of Butter (Feel free to keep it Veg and use Olive Oil)
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt (Approx)
- 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper (Approx) – White Pepper is Best
- 1/3 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1/4 Cup Grated Reggiano Parmesan Cheese