Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Creamy Asparagus Soup: A Soup of a Different Color, from Cook's Country

 Today, being St. Patrick's Day, I've seen so many beautiful "green" dishes.  It's is purely, by coincidence, that I have this vibrantly green, beautiful (and very tasty) Creamy Asparagus Soup to share with all of you.  This recipe is in the April 2010 issue of Cook's Country-- one of my favorite recipe magazines. I took these photos on Monday night, shortly before all my natural lighting was gone.  For that reason, you can't really appreciate what a verdant green this soup turned out to be. There are two secret ingredients, that the test kitchen of Cook's Country (same owners as Cook's Illustrated) added that delivered surprisingly great results. What are they?  First, let's start with the basics-- fresh asparagus.  This bunch is from Mexico, but today I see that locally grown California asparagus has hit the markets at $1.97 a pound. I'm so happy, because we love asparagus.

 TIP: I save these blue bands. They are perfect for tying bouquet garni (herbs for seasoning soup stock and stews).  Kitchen twine is great, but these hold up really well in hot liquids.

Prepare the leeks, but washing and cutting them and washing them well.  If you are unfamiliar with how to prep leeks, click here. Cut tips off asparagus spears and chop stalks into 1/2-inch pieces. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter (I used a combo of olive oil and unsalted butter) in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add asparagus tips and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Right here, I could have eaten all of these. OK. I ate one. It was delicious. 

Add remaining butter and asparagus, leeks, 1/2 tablespoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to empty pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.The secret ingredients are about to be revealed...

Add broth to pot and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in peas and Parmesan. Peas and Parmesan?  Yes, that's right. Cook's Country found that the peas gave a vibrant green color to the soup, but taste testers couldn't detect the peas.  The Parmesan's slightly nutty flavor was a good balance to the asparagus, the article said. Now, to make the soup creamy....

Puree soup in blender in 2 batches and return to pot. However, kudos to you if you have an immersion blender. I've written this dozens of times-- I find it so much easier to puree my soups right in the pot! Why bother pouring soups, in batches, into a blender and then back into the pot?  Whatever floats your boat. Last, stir in cream, lemon juice, and asparagus tips, and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve. 
 This is the truth-- I made this soup in less than 30 minutes! Of course, how did it taste, you wonder?

Winner, winner, winner!  Craig and I both loved this soup a lot.  The first thing we commented about was the pretty color.  We do taste with our eyes, don't we?  The balance of asparagus flavor was perfect.  Craig didn't taste the peas nor the Parmesan cheese.  These surprising ingredients complemented the overall flavor of the soup.  I think you could easily substitute the heavy cream for half and half, or even milk.  To us, 1/4 cup of heavy cream for six servings isn't too big an indulgence.  


This soup is worthy of company.  It's elegant, flavorful and not too heavy. It's a perfect Spring Time Soup. 

Spring has arrived in my hometown!

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30 comments:

Jessica {The Novice Chef} said...

This looks fabulous! I am so glad I discovered your blog!!

Debinhawaii said...

I love asparagus soup--especially the creamy kind. It looks delicious. Thanks for the shout out ;-) and for sending it to Souper Sundays. I'll look forward to adding it to this Sunday's round-up.

Carla and Michael said...

I am so going to make this while it is still cooler and rainy here where we are. Beautiful soup, beautiful pictures. I am dreaming of having a bowl right now and it's only 7 am here as I type this. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Kim said...

Asparagus soup is the first soup I ever made! This looks terrific. I agree with you about the heavy cream 1/2 cup for 6 servings is just right;D

TKW said...

Looks so good! And I don't think 1/4 cup cream for 6 servings is bad at all!

Bellini Valli said...

I made a version of asparagus soup yesterday..great minds think alike and it is the season for garden fresh asparagus!!

Karen said...

Beautiful color to this soup - I'm sure it was wonderful!

Belle on Heels said...

major yum!! i just sent this to my mom, who is an asparagus FREAK. we will definitely have to try!

Pam said...

I love cream of asparagus soup - your version looks excellent!

Chiara "Kika" Assi said...

I love asparagus too and wish it was as cheap here as it is where you live! Asparagus soup is one of my favorites, I like the addition of the leeks... mmm... I can almost taste it!!!

Robin said...

I knew I bought all the asparagus for a reason!! Thanks again for another great idea/recipe!!

Joanne said...

Mmmm I've been inhaling asparagus lately! Yay for spring. This soup looks delicious.

Danielle said...

this looks heavenly. I keep trying to find soups that my husband would like (he's not a soup fan) but he does like his asparagus. Im hoping this will do the trick!

Kate said...

Asparagus and spring...the two go together and make me smile. Your soup looks delightful...great photographs!

bella said...

What a wonderful soup! I also subscribe to Cook's Country, a great magazine! Nice to see how one of the recipes turns out! I think I'll make this for my Easter dinner! Thanks! Roz PS: 72 degrees today here, so spring has arrived here too (and hopefully it will stay!)

À LA GRAHAM said...

I have a bundle of aspargus sitting on my counter just begging to be turned into this soup...I'm going to try it with shallots instead of leeks..have to use what I have on hand.

Patty said...

This is definitely me favorite green dish so far. Thanks for posting it looks great!

Mary said...

What a grand looking soup. I wouldn't be concerned about the cream. Divided by six that really is not a bad amount. Some soups need that bit of richness to make them standouts. Your soup looks and sounds like a standout.

The Chef In My Head said...

Thank Goodness asparagus is back in the stores again. It's seems bigger thicker and taster than I remember in years before. Our weather here in Texas can't seem to make up it's mind. 80 degrees yesterday and another freeze due again tonight. Perfect soup weather for a perfect vegetable! ~LeslieMichele

Muneeba said...

Mmmmm .. sooo purdyyyy! I could stare at asparagus for hours and photograph them for days .. such wondrous little veggies :)

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

That is one great technique, using peas to pump the green! I love asparagus soup, and asparagus is such a rite of spring, which has finally arrived! Glad to hear you like Cooks Country - I've been thinking of checking it out.

Marguerite said...

I love asparagus and this soup looks wonderful! Great pics, as always!

Monica H said...

Happy Spring!

I had cream of asparagus soup the other day at one of my favorite cafes and it was so good. I'll have to try this one out!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Hey Deb, I just printed this out, I have a huge bag of fresh asparagus I got from Costco, guess what I'm making????

Musings Of A Gem said...

I recently discovered your blog and my mouth is already watering! I love soups but have never tried asparagus..will definately give it a go!

Gemma

http://musings-of-a-gem.blogspot.com/

jill said...

This looks delicious! I'll be making it this weekend.

Joe Ambrosino said...

I have a 10 year collection of Cook's Illustrated- it's my encyclopedia, and I love my immersion blender too! Nice to have found your blog.

Tina said...

This was amazingly simple to make. I made this soup in just 35 minutes, however, I was moving quickly and wasted no time! Low fat and still very tasty!

bellini said...

I recreated this soup in my kitchen this morning Debbie and it was the perfect Spring pick me up.

danielle said...

I made a double batch of the soup and found that it did not have much flavour so I added a splash of hot sauce, a splash of reduced balsamic and a splash of white wine, salt and pepper some shredded chicken and it is awesome. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. Next time, I'll follow the ingredients to a t and see if it makes a difference.