Monday, February 20, 2012

Creamy Asparagus Soup (vegan)

Does anything shout "spring" like bright green, skinny asparagus stalks? They grew wild (or were a holdover from an old kitchen garden) in the ditch across the street from our house. We would harvest them in spring, and, as the weeks wore on, I enjoyed watching the plants sprout into bouquets of dainty fronds.

Any more, asparagus is available year round, but in early spring it becomes less expensive and has wonderful flavor. This weekend I made a creamy soup from a bundle I purchased at the supermarket. I left out milk and cheese, so we thoroughly enjoyed the grassy, earthy flavor of the stalks. In Vegetable Heaven, Mollie Katzen describes tarragon's affinity for asparagus. So, I added lots of this herb to the soup, to wonderful effect.


1 1/2 to 2 pounds asparagus
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 medium Russet potato
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I like Pacific or Wolfgang Puck brands if I don't have homemade)
1/2 to 3/4 cup soy milk*
salt and pepper to taste
generous sprinkling of dried tarragon

Chop the onion and garlic. The size of the pieces isn't important as they will be pureed. Saute them in a medium-sized pan with a pinch salt. Once they start to brown, deglaze the pan with a little of the broth. Then, add the remaining broth.

Rinse the asparagus. Chop off the woody stems. Remove the tips and set aside.  Cut the stalks into 2–3 inch pieces and add them to the pan. Keep on medium heat.

Use a grater to shred the potato into the pan. (The potato will add flavor and give the soup a creamy texture.)

Once the asparagus is tender (about 10 minutes), puree the entire mixture with the soy milk.  I use either a food processor or a stick blender.

Steam the asparagus tips. I usually do this in a cup, with a small amount of water, in the microwave for a couple of minutes. They are done when they turn bright green.

If you've pureed in a processor or blender, return the mixture to the pan. Add the steamed tips. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the generous sprinkling of tarragon.

Serve immediately. This soup makes a great first course before a meal of a heartier fare.

I've given approximations for the amounts of asparagus and milk, since bundles of asparagus in the supermarket can vary in weight. If you are unsure about how much milk to add, just add it slowly until the texture seems somewhat thick and pleasing.

*If you avoid soy, use dairy, almond, or hemp milk.