This is a simple, refreshing soup that’s good hot or cold. The original inspiration comes from Deborah Madison’s The Greens Cookbook. It’s a vegetarian soup that can be made vegan. You make the stock from asparagus ends and leek tops, and you use the body of the asparagus and leeks to make the soup.
I’m not one who usually enjoys cold soups. However, when I first served this soup it was hot, and someone commented that it would taste good cold, so I tried it; I haven’t served this soup hot since. To me, it’s a perfect spring or early summer soup. It’s so fresh tasting, yet it has a wonderful creamy depth without being a cream soup!
For years, I pureed and strained asparagus soup, as I was taught to remove all of the potentially unpleasant fibers from the soup. One day, I questioned that practice. Aren’t we always looking to increase our fiber intake? Why strain it out? And so I changed my method slightly and stopped straining the soup.
I cut the asparagus into short, 1/4″ pieces along with the leeks. This way, when you puree the soup you don’t have long, unpleasant fibers but short, pureed fibers that add texture.
You can puree the soup in a blender or food processor. I recommend using a blender. You’ll achieve a finer puree more easily in a blender because the mass of vegetables falls down on the blade in a blender rather than spinning around the blade, as it does in a food processor.
I like using Meyer lemon juice and rind to season and garnish this soup. In the picture above, a Meyer lemon is on the right; a regular lemon on the left. Years ago, Meyer lemons were only available in California, usually from a tree in someone’s backyard. This year, however, I found them in my local supermarket in the DC area as well as in Bryan, Ohio. Regular lemons or a combination of regular lemon and orange will also make for a delicious soup.
To make a vegan version of this soup, use vegetable oil instead of butter and omit the cream and sour cream.
I enjoyed the resulting full-fiber soup and hope you will, too. MM loves this soup, too. So in our house, it’s considered kid-friendly.
Fresh Asparagus Soup
- 1 pound fresh asparagus*
Ingredients for Stock:
- Ends of asparagus stalks, chopped into 1′ lengths
- 1 cup green leek tops, chopped into 1/2″ lengths
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped into 1″ pieces
- 1 celery stalk, chopped into 1″ pieces
- 4 parsley sprigs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 cups cold water
Ingredients for Soup:
- cleaned and prepared asparagus stalks (cut into 1/4″ pieces) and tops (cut off and reserve the most attractive tips for garnishing the soup)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2-3 leeks (white part only), washed and cut into 1/4″ pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- asparagus stock
- salt and pepper
Ingredients for Garnish:
- grated peel and juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon, regular lemon, or regular lemon and orange
- 1/4 cup cream
- 2 tablespoons sour cream, Labne (Kefir cheese), or yogurt
Directions for Stock:
Snap off the tough root ends of the asparagus stalks. To do this, hold a stalk below the tip and at the root end. Bend the stalk until it snaps apart. Use the root ends for your stock and the greener and the top section for the soup and garnish. Combine the prepared stock ingredients in a deep saucepan or small stock pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes. Strain.
Directions for Soup:
Heat the butter in a small stock pot or large sauce pan. Add the leeks and cook, stirring often, until they are very wilted and soft, but not browned, about 8-10 minutes. Add the chopped asparagus, salt, and stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 5-6 minutes. The asparagus should be cooked until tender, soft enough that it can be finely pureed but still green (not grey green).
Blend the soup well. Scoop or strain the vegetables out of the liquid. Place the vegetables in the blender or food processor. Add just enough liquid so that the vegetables will puree. Transfer the smooth puree to a bowl. Stir in the remaining stock, tasting as you go. If you think the flavor balance is good before you’ve added all of the stock, don’t add any more. If you think the flavor of the soup is a bit strong, add a bit of water. If you’re serving the soup cold, chill it. If you’re serving it hot, reserve the soup until you’re ready to serve it, but don’t reheat it until just before serving.
Directions for Garnish:
Make the soup garnish. Blanch the reserved asparagus tips in salted water for 1-2 minutes so they’re just tender but still bright green. Grate the rind from half a lemon and reserve. Whip 1/4 cup cream lightly, until soft peaks form. Whisk in the sour cream, Labne, or yogurt. Season with salt. Reserve.
Finish your soup before serving it. Add a dash of freshly ground pepper. Then balance the seasoning of the soup with lemon juice and salt. Add a squeeze of lemon, then add salt to taste. Go back and forth, cautiously, with the lemon and salt until the soup has a bright but round asparagus flavor. (It won’t need much of either.)
Place the soup in serving bowls and add a dollop of the cream mixture. Divide the reserved asparagus tips between the bowls. Sprinkle the grated lemon rind over the top.
Serve and enjoy!
*I use pencil-thin asparagus for this soup. Larger asparagus has a thicker skin and fibers around it. If your asparagus is very large and thick, you might find that, despite your best chopping efforts, you want to strain the soup before serving.