It’s finally starting to warm up here just a little bit. And by “warm up” I do mean reach the freezing mark. That said, February is asparagus month. I adore asparagus in just about any form. I bought a huge bunch recently and lightly roasted several spears to wrap prosciutto around – just for me!
Of course, that also meant that I had quite a bit of asparagus hanging around waiting for me to do something with it. Since we’re still in winter, soup sounded good to me – and I was hoping against hope I might also get Mister Man to try it and possibly enjoy it. I’ve found that – oddly – he’ll like soups and veggies in soups more than he does in other forms.
And since I like roasted asparagus so much, I decided to go that route. It was quick and easy, with ingredients I had on hand (yay!), and yes… Mister Man loved it. He is now officially an asparagus fan, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Roasted Asparagus Soup
1 big bunch Asparagus (thinner asparagus is more tender and flavorful, but obviously mine wasn’t all super thin)
1/2 red onion
1 T butter
2 cloves garlic
4 c chicken stock
3/4 c milk
1/2 c vermouth or dry white wine
1/8 t black pepper
salt, to taste
You’ll want to start your asparagus and onion around the same time, but your choice as to which you do first – it’s six of one, half dozen of the other.
To prepare your asparagus, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Then hold the asparagus in both hands and gently snap off the bottom of the asparagus. The bottom part is fairly woody and tough, and it will naturally snap off at the right point – sometimes a little higher and sometimes a little lower. It’s kinda cool!
Discard the bottoms. Place the “good” parts onto a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with edges so they don’t roll off – or make do, if you need to). Drizzle with olive oil, and toss the asparagus with your fingers to coat. Spread into a single layer, and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Place the asparagus into the oven for just 5-7 minutes. You want them still bright green and yummy. Do you see the difference in the before and after?
While the asparagus is cooking, chop your onion and garlic. Melt the butter on medium in the pot you’re going to cook your soup in. Add 1/4 c of the chicken stock. Once it’s heated, add the onion and garlic. Cover the pot (you don’t want the stock to evaporate) and cook for five to ten minutes. Stir it periodically, and once you see that it’s getting translucent and soft, you know you’re good to go.
When the asparagus comes out of the oven, remove it from the pan immediately to help it stop cooking. Cut the stems into chunks, leaving the tips separate; you’ll use those for decoration a bit later.
Add the vermouth/wine and remaining chicken stock to the pot and bring to a simmer for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol (just before a boil – nice and hot though). Add the asparagus.
Add your milk (or cream if you want extra rich soup!). If you have an immersion blender, use it now to puree the soup really, really well. If you don’t have an immersion blender, puree the soup in batches in a regular blender, being sure to fill it no more than one-third full and using a kitchen towel to hold the top on the blender while pureeing for safety (hot liquids in a blender expand greatly when blended; you don’t want it too full which may push the top off the blender, and the kitchen towel just adds another layer of protection).
Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. I actually am good with no salt added, but I need some pepper. Most people will probably want to add some salt though, start with 1/4 teaspoon.
Annnnnd serve while hot, using the reserved asparagus tips as garnish in your soup. If you’re inspired, slices from a fresh whole wheat baguette go gorgeously with this soup.