Fresh asparagus is one of the heralds of spring. Although we can find it almost year round (due to imports), the best quality and quantity of asparagus comes in the spring. If you are an asparagus lover, try this lemony puree of asparagus soup for a spring or Easter dinner. It’s easy to make and can be made ahead to save time. My recipe serves two, but it scales up easily to serve a crowd for dinner.
Being happily spoiled consumers who can pretty much get anything, anytime at the market, we may never realize how labor intensive many of our foods are to grow. That definitely applies to one of my favorite vegetables – asparagus. Workers often start before dawn, sometimes in the moonlight, bending low and hand-cutting the slender green spears before they are bundled and delivered to market.
A member of the lily family, asparagus spears turn green when the stalks burst through the dirt and encounter the sun. The sun-struck spears produce chlorophyll and turn green. If you dig under the dirt, you’ll find the spears are white.
Buying and Storing Asparagus
When shopping, choose fresh looking spears with tight tops or heads. As a kid, I called them the braids. Many markets will have the bundles sitting in a shallow pan of water to keep them from drying out.
When you get asparagus home, stand the bundle in a tall container with a little water in the bottom to keep the ends moist and cover loosely with plastic wrap until you are ready to use it. Alternatively, wet a paper towel with water and wrap the ends, then place in a plastic bag. It will last a couple of days stored this way, but the sooner you use it the better.
Ways to Enjoy Asparagus
There are many ways to enjoy asparagus: roasted, chopped and combined with zucchini for a quick vegetable stir fry, folded into an omelet, wrapped with Prosciutto baked for a fantastic appetizer, or as I have done here, pureed into a vibrant green soup.
Asparagus soup can be served either warm on a cool day or chilled on a hot one and makes a lovely seasonal addition to a spring brunch or dinner.
Quick and Easy Soup
To make asparagus soup, sauté a little onion in oil, add chopped roast asparagus, add a little chicken (or vegetable) stock, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Puree in a blender. That’s it.
For creamy soup, try MimicCreme, a nut-based vegan substitute for cream. It’s a great alternative for people with dairy sensitivities or anyone trying to eat a more plant-based diet. Half and half is another option for those who enjoy regular dairy products. Add just enough to get it to the viscosity you want, either thick or fluid. Heat gently and enjoy.
Yield: about 2 3/4 cups
- 1 pound asparagus, a few tips reserved for garnish
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (plus a little extra to roast asparagus)
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 large garlic clove, chopped
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth, low sodium
- 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- ½ teaspoon white or black pepper, or more to taste
- Juice of 1 lemon, zest first for optional garnish
- ¾ cup MimicCreme or half and half (or a little more to get the texture you desire)
- Optional garnishes: reserved asparagus tips, lemon zest, finely chopped chives, crispy Prosciutto, vegan sour creme or creme fraiche.
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Snap ends off asparagus and discard tough ends. Trim spears into large pieces. Place on the baking sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp paring knife. Time will depend on how this the spears are, but it takes just a few minutes. Alternative to roasting, drop the chopped asparagus into boiling, salted water and cook just a few minutes until tender. Drain, and continue with the recipe.
- In a medium saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat; add onion and sauté, stirring until soft and translucent. Add garlic clove and cook one minute longer. Add the chopped asparagus to the pan, reserving a few tips for garnish if desired. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Puree in a blender, being careful with the hot liquid. When pureed until smooth, add lemon juice and MimicCreme; blend a few more seconds to incorporate.
- Taste and season for your preference. Heat if needed gently before serving. Garnish as desired. Adjust the thickness for your preference with additional MimicCreme or broth if needed.
Safety notes for pureeing hot liquids – Fill the blender no more than half full. Puree in batches if necessary to be safe. Place the lid on securely, cover with a folded kitchen towel and hold it on with your hand. Start and a low speed and built up.
Helpful links on related recipes and tools:
For blenders, I use a Vita-Mix. They are powerful (1380 watt motor) and high capacity (2 quarts). I’ve had mine for many years and use it daily. They are a solid investment in power kitchen tools. No comparison to a standard blender in performance. Order here and get free shipping.
Easy Blender Hollandaise from Simply Recipes
Good ideas from Weeknights Fresh & Fast by Kristine Kidd
Slow Butter Braised Asparagus by Steamy Kitchen
Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Soy Browned Butter by Steamy Kitchen
LA Times article on asparagus, grown in California’s San Joaquin delta
All about asparagus, from the Worlds Healthiest Food site
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