Most days, I find asparagus doesn’t need more than a simple steam or roasting, and usually my first inclination, but for Passover, I wanted something special. Something with a bright spring color, light enough to make room for the ridiculous amount of food I prepared, make ahead, and of course, better be delicious. With all the beautiful asparagus at the market, a velvety smooth soup was the obvious choice – spring flavors in a bowl!
I served it hot for Passover with a sprinkling of volcanic sea salt and a sprig of fresh dill (would have used basil but ran out) to keep it light, but don’t see why crispy shallots, bacon, or croutons wouldn’t work. With enough leftover for my husband and me, we enjoyed it chilled for lunch the next day with a drizzle of my favorite extra-virgin olive oil from Fig and Olive restaurant in Los Angeles (their light, floral variety is INCREDIBLE). We couldn’t get enough. To think I’m excited about asparagus soup is surprising (I can think of other foods to get excited about, like brownies for instance) but really it’s that good. I hope you give it a try SOON.
What gives this soup flavor appeal is in the details: an assortment of onion varieties to give the soup complexity and richness (and to steer away from tasting like a bowl baby food). A good sear of the leek, onion, and shallots to give the soup character along with a splash of vinegar — the subtlety of the vinegar goes a long way. And since basil and fennel pair so well with asparagus I had to add them in.
I’ve made it twice since adding in chopped up shwarma-style chicken and another time grilled shrimp – YUM. My new summer soup: chilled asparagus soup shooters with a spiced grilled shrimp on the rim or soup cups with diced pickled daikon or cucumber on top … oh the possibilities.
To keep the asparagus from losing its beautiful color I’ve got a neat hack for you: blanch a portion of the asparagus then shock (to stop the cooking process) and add to the soup just before pureeing. The faded pea-green-looking soup will become bright green in a pinch. This works great for broccoli, zucchini, kale … any green vegetable that fades during the cooking process.
You can serve it hot or cold though the flavors come across differently with temperature. When hot, it tastes like the classic asparagus soup, as if theirs plenty of cream despite having any, the generous amounts of vegetable serve a purpose. When chilled, the asparagus and basil flavors are front and center also comes across somewhat sweeter — refreshing in a chilled soup. My personal preference is chilled, but either way, has plenty of richness and depth to please a crowd and easy enough to make, or make ahead, and freezer friendly too. A souper win-win. HEHE. 😉
- You will need a hand-held immersion blender, or blender to puree soup.
- 3-4 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil (refined kind won’t impart coconut flavor)
- 4 shallots, chopped
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3- 3½ lbs fresh asparagus, 1-inch trimmed off bottoms, cut in thirds, reserve 1 pound (mostly tips) for blanching
- 1 fennel bulb with fronds, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 handful basil leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or sherry vinegar
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 4 cups of water
- 2½ tablespoons kosher salt, or to taste, divided
- 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper, or to taste
- *Rough chop of ingredients is enough since soup is pureed in the end.
- *Halving the recipe will reduce cooking time by about half.
- Set a soup pot or large dutch oven over medium-high heat, when hot, add avocado oil and coconut oil then immediately add shallots, leeks, and onion. Stir to coat well. Stir again after a minute, cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until onion mixture forms browned edges. Add in asparagus pieces (remember to reserve a pound for blanching) and fennel to cook another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. Add a splash of oil if needed. Add garlic, basil, ½ tablespoon of kosher salt and half of black pepper (1/2 teaspoon), when fragrant add vinegar, stir again. Immediately add stock and water, stir again. Add in remaining kosher salt and black pepper. Once it comes to a boil reduce heat to medium-low to cook for 25-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, for blanching: set a medium saucepan, filled halfway with water, on high heat. When boiling add the remaining 1½ tablespoons of kosher salt and reserved asparagus. Continue to boil for 5 minutes (exactly). While blanching, fill a bowl with water and a tray full of ice cubes. When asparagus is done, drain well then add to ice water and let it sit until soup is done.
- If serving the soup immediately: drain the blanched asparagus and add to the soup, puree directly in the pot using an immersion blender or transfer small batches at a time to a blender and puree.
- If making ahead: Drain blanched asparagus and keep sealed in a small bowl. It will stay fresh for up to 4 days. Cool the soup to room temperature (at least 4 hours) before storing in the refrigerator or cool completely before freezing (at least 6 hours). Before serving, add blanched asparagus to the soup and puree. Serve hot or cold. Garnish as desired.
- Note on blanching: salting the water with a generous amount of salt will season the asparagus as well as bring out the bright green color in minutes.
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