Asparagus is a vegetable I rarely eat out of season. It’s a delicacy so firmly associated with spring in my mind, that it just seems wrong to eat it all year-round. Asparagus heralds spring in the same manner as the bright yellow daffodils, and the green buds on the trees. It is also a vegetable that, while available year-round, is definitely less expensive when you buy it in season. You can buy it at the supermarket, or buy it locally-grown the farmers market. This is also the time to buy a big bunch and preserve it for the rest of the year. Pickled asparagus is lovely alongside a sandwich or in a Bloody Mary, and since a jar can be quite expensive, it’s definitely worth making yourself (I really will try and get a recipe for pickled asparagus posted soon).
Many home cooks have probably not given much thought to what an asparagus spear actually is, or how it grows, but, in fact, asparagus spears are the green shoots of a plant in the Lily family. The shoots are picked only throughout a small window of time in the spring. The plant is then allowed to mature into beautiful, fern-like foliage as the weather warms, ending asparagus harvest until the following spring. Depending on the local climate, asparagus harvest season occurs sometime in the range of February-June, with its peak season occurring in April or May. If you are interested in growing your own, just know that once established in the garden, a patch of asparagus can continue to produce for 15-20 years or more.
This is my recipe for a simple, yet elegant soup. It’s really one of my favorite soups, though it couldn’t be easier to make. I’ve paired it here with chives and a little sour cream. I enjoy the tangy flavor of sour cream in this soup, but if sour cream isn’t your thing, you could also use heavy cream, plain yogurt, or even coconut milk. I have also used a few of potatoes to thicken the soup, and give it a little more substance.
2 tablespoons butter
½ medium onion, diced
1 pound of asparagus
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock (I used Better than Bouillon Vegetable base in this recipe)
3 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons chopped chives, divided
1/3 cup sour cream
Salt and ground black pepper
1. Wash the asparagus and drain. Snap off the fibrous, woody end of each spear and discard. Roughly chop the remaining spears into 2-inch pieces. Set aside.
2. In a Dutch oven or soup pot, cook the diced onion in the butter over medium heat. Cook, while stirring, until soft and translucent (about 10 minutes). Stir in the asparagus, the stock, and the potatoes, and bring to a simmer. Allow to gently bubble for about 15-20 minutes, or until everything is tender.
3. Stir 2 tablespoons of the chives into the soup. Allow soup to cool slightly, and then (carefully) blend everything using a regular blender or a stick blender. Depending on the type of blender you use, there may be some tough fibers or grainy potato pieces remaining, so you may want to pass the soup through a fine mesh strainer after blending.
4. If the soup is still hot after blending (and straining), temper the sour cream by stirring a few tablespoons of the strained soup into the sour cream. Add the sour cream mixture back into the soup pot, mixing thoroughly.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish each bowl with a big pinch of the remaining chives.
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