In our house, asparagus is a pretty popular vegetable all year long, especially during the summer months. Steamed asparagus gets the job done and sautéed hits the spot as well, but I think grilling asparagus takes it to the next level. I just throw them in my locking grill basket with some olive oil and a little salt & pepper, get a nice char on them, and serve them still crispy. If I want to get super fancy, I add some balsamic or lemon juice/zest. Regardless of how I cook them though, the prep is always the same- break off the bottom of each spear and toss the tough part in the trash. That is, until I learned this little secret from a kitchen queen.
A few years ago we had a couple over for dinner and we happened to be making some asparagus. I went to throw out the bottoms like usual when the husband asked me if I ever keep them to make soup. He went on to tell me that his wife saves up the discarded parts and later makes a fantastic asparagus soup out of the leftovers. I only half believed him because the only time he steps foot in his own kitchen is to find out how much longer his wife thinks it will be until dinner is ready. She is a hell of a cook though so I figured I would give it a go someday.
Someday eventually came along and since then I have made it a few times. It is one of those recipes that I tweak here and there depending on what I have on hand or am in the mood for. That seems to be my modus operandi for soups in general though. By the way, if you read through this and wonder where in the heck is the cream – I can’t handle dairy besides a little bit of butter here and there. Makes me tummy go owe. Which, on a related note, I should point out that the soup still makes your pee smell funny as it is just like eating any other asparagus.
20 asparagus bottoms rough chopped
½ onion rough chopped
3 cloves of garlic pressed
1 handful of fresh spinach leaves
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
Over low-med heat begin to heat olive oil and add pressed garlic in a large/deep non-stick pan. Allow garlic to become fragrant, stirring so it doesn’t overcook for about 2-3 minutes. Add in onions and stir for about 3 minutes. Add in the asparagus and sauté for 5 minutes. Turn up stove to med-hi and stir in the wine letting it cook off for a minute. Then add broth and water, bring just to a boil and then set it to a lively simmer for 20 minutes or until the asparagus is easily pierced through with a fork.
Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), blend all the ingredients into a liquid. The asparagus is going to be a bit stringy and you may have to clean your blade a couple times. Once you have blended everything, strain the soup through a sieve, scraping it with a spoon to push the liquid through and discarding the stringy fragments. Put strained liquid into a pot and bring back to a simmer. I add the spinach here and run it all through the immersion blender again. By adding the spinach here, I can control the color and consistency better. Add salt and white pepper to taste and let it then come together for an additional 5 minutes or so until it is reduced to the right consistency. At the very end, stir in the tab of cold butter to give it that final bit of thickness and sheen.
I topped it with a little bit of parsley this time, but I am thinking some other nice toppings would be bacon (what doesn’t bacon go with?) or some kind of seed or nut. Let me know if you have any ideas or how it might be tweaked for other ethnic styles. Seems like I could convert it to something indian or thai pretty easy with coconut milk and some spicy peppers.