This soup requires a bit of attention so that it remains appetizing ... the beautiful tips of the asparagus get a four minute blanching in boiling water and then an ice bath to set their brilliant green color. There are croutons made with a whole wheat baguette, a tossing of melted butter and a dose of kosher salt, black pepper, and dried parsley. There is a small dollop of sour cream set in the middle of each serving with the lovely asparagus tips plopped around it. That's a perfect Springtime first course ... we're having ours with slices of soft cheese and a glass of Gewürztraminer. So nice ...!
Cream of Asparagus Soup
2 large handfuls fresh asparagus spears (about 1½ lbs), washed and drained well
1 large leek, white section only, washed and sliced into coins
2 shallots, minced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped small dice
½ c. fresh parsley, chopped plus more for garnish
3 tbsp. butter
6 c. chicken stock
¾ tsp. white pepper
1 ½ c. light cream
sour cream for garnish
Making the soup:
1. Heat the stock in a large soup pot. Break off the lower ends of the asparagus stalks and add them to the stock. Cover and simmer until the asparagus is softened. Remove with slotted spoon and discard. The stock should now have an infused asparagus flavor.
2. Season the stock with the white pepper and add the potatoes.
3. While the potatoes heat up, prepare the asparagus. Cut the pretty tips off the stalks and set them aside. Cut the remaining sections into small pieces ½ inch long.
4. Heat the butter in a non-stick pan and add the leeks, shallots, and pieces of asparagus stalk and sauté until the leeks and shallots glisten and the asparagus is bright green.
5. Scrape the whole mess into the stock and simmer gently until the asparagus is soft and the potatoes are very soft. Add the parsley.
6. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup and return it to the stove for a minute or two. Add the cream and swirl it to incorporate. Turn off the heat, cover the soup, and let the pepper and parsley work a bit.
7. In a small saucepan, boil some water. Add the asparagus tips and blanche for exactly four minutes. While the tips blanche, prepare an ice bath.
8. Drain the tips, toss them in the ice bath and leave them there until they are cold.
9. Drain and dry them on paper towels.
10. Melt a small amount of butter in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. When the butter foams, add bread cubes (French bread makes excellent croutons) and a bit of salt, black pepper, and dried parsley. Toss the croutons to coat and stir them until they begin to crisp up.
11. Remove from heat and scatter them on a platter to cool and crisp some more.
12. When you wish to serve the soup, warm it to sipping temperature, ladle into bowls and garnish with some of the pretty asparagus tips, a dollop of sour cream, a bit of fresh chopped parsley, and have croutons ready for adding a few at a time.