Lunches & Light Suppers/ Spring/ Summer/ Suppers, Dinners & Main Courses

ASPARAGUS SOUP

Asparagus soup, blended to velvety smoothness and finished with creme fraiche and pink peppercorns

I love making soup and it is a default when I open the fridge and am faced with left over broccoli or pretty much anything. This soup is so delicious, however, that I encourage you to buy asparagus just for this. You can sometimes find sprue, which is thin, weedy stuff that would get sand kicked in its face on the beach, but is fab for soup making and is cheaper than the muscly stuff you need for cooking naked (the asparagus, not you….but I’m not here to judge). Markets are better hunting grounds for this than supermarkets and keep your eyes peeled, especially towards the end of the season. The quantity is fairly arbitrary, as you can just adjust everything else dependent on how much “grass” you have. I usually make soup in an ancient and much loved Le Creuset 20cm casserole, but as long as whatever you use has a thick base, use what you have. In terms of finishing the soup, my preference is Ivy House Farm (ivyhousefarm.com) Jersey single cream (available from farmdrop.com) and a miniscule amount of finely chopped chive, but this is good with yogurt or creme fraiche and parsley. I have tried this with mint, thinking it was a summer herb and might complement the asparagus well. Horrid: what was I thinking. Only thing I would caution against is swamping the wonderful asparagus flavour by using too much of any of your preferred finishes. Oh and I don’t think this works as a chilled soup either, but try it – you might think differently!

Ingredients

  • 400g fresh asparagus
  • 1 banana shallot, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • unsalted butter
  • olive oil
  • 750 ml hot vegetable stock (Marigold or Kallo is fine)
  • chives or flat leaf parsley
  • cream, yogurt or creme fraiche
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions

1

Add 1tbsp of oil and 1 tbsp butter to pan and add shallot and garlic, keep heat low to prevent colouring and soften, added a modicum of salt at this point

2

While this is happening, chop the stems into pieces about 1cm long, after snapping off and discarding any woody ends

3

Add to the pan and stir around cooking gently without colouring; add some freshly ground pepper at this point and then add the stock

4

Partially cover and simmer for about 25 minutes; the asparagus needs to be soft and the liquid to have reduced by about 20% in order to concentrate the flavour

5

Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly

6

Blend to the point that pleases you: sometimes I like a very smooth soup, other times, I like to see a few green chunky bits bobbing around. If I want it to be very refined (not often!), I will sieve it but for me, adding refinement also risks removing some precious asparagus flavour

7

Serve into warmed dishes, stir in your choice of dairy and sprinkle lightly with finely chopped herbs

Notes

Serves four as a starter or two for a substantial lunch with Ballymaloe Bread. This also freezes well if frozen prior to adding the cream and I quite like having some squirrelled away for those cold summer days that we inevitably get in the UK.

 

 

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