The versatility of vegetable soups makes them year-round favorites of chefs around the world. Served piping hot in the wintertime when outside temps make the mercury dip, many of these same soups can also be enjoyed chilled or at room temperature for a completely different spin on the same basic flavors.
Asparagus soup is one such dish. My stepmother Pat is an excellent chef who draws from her Greek heritage to create healthy, flavor-rich meals with a Mediterranean twist. She explains, “When I serve this soup hot, I shave Parmesan or Romano cheese for a garnish. I generally reserve creme fraiche or mascarpone for chilled soup. To keep it vegan, you can also add toasted pine nuts or chopped parsley.”
No matter how you choose to serve, this simple-to-prepare
soup is downright delicious. And besides the obvious health benefits of a low-fat vegetable soup you’ll enjoy the added benefit of a vivid jolt of color at your dinner table.
Pat’s Asparagus Soup
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 bunches asparagus
1 bunch leeks*
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 quart vegetable stock (or chicken stock for a non-vegetarian option)
Mascarpone cheese or crème fraiche for chilled soup garnish
Shaved Parmesan or Grana Padana cheese for hot soup garnish
Chopped parsley for garnish
Toasted nuts for garnish
*May substitute onions or celery/carrots if preferred.
Method of Preparation:
- Wash all vegetables, taking care to remove sandy residue from leeks.
- In large stockpot, heat stock until simmering.
- Leaving bunch rubber bands in place, trim hard ends from asparagus and set aside. Trim tips from asparagus and set aside. Chop remaining stalks of asparagus and set aside.
- Cut bulb end from leeks, then coarsely chop remaining stalks and set aside.
- When stock is simmering, add cut asparagus ends to pot for infused flavor. Boil for 20 minutes, then strain stock into bowl and discard ends. This process may take longer depending on the thickness of your asparagus. Adjust cooking time accordingly until asparagus is tender.
n stockpot, heat olive oil. Saute chopped leeks (or celery/carrot combination) until slightly wilted, about 10 minutes. Add asparagus stalks (not tips) to mixture and cook down for several minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.
- Pour hot stock over vegetables and simmer for at least 45 minutes until vegetables have broken down. Using an immersion stick blender, puree vegetables and stock until mixture attains the consistency of a cream soup.
- Blanch asparagus tips in boiling water until color becomes bright green. Strain. If you want to stop the cooking process and retain color, plunge cooked tips briefly into ice water, then strain again.
- Taste soup and adjust seasonings. Remember, chilled soups often need more salt and pepper to make flavors bloom.
- Ladle into soup bowls or mugs, top with asparagus tips and your choice of garnish.
Delicious served warm, at room temperature or chilled. Make your own this weekend!