When we got back from Aruba a few weeks ago, there wasn't much in our fridge. Just before leaving I'd dutifully cooked my way through the majority of what we had then tossed out anything I suspected would spoil before we got back. Had it not been for the work farmer's market they hold in our cafeteria every Wednesday, our first dinner back would have likely been scrambled eggs. But fortunately, I was able to snag a beautiful (and huge!) bunch of local purple asparagus to turn into delicious soup.
Soup might seem like an odd choice for a summer meal, but this Creamy Asparagus Soup is actually quite perfect. It comes together easily and requires minimal time in front of the stove. Even better, it travels well and reheats even better, so you can make a batch early in the week for quick lunches or meals, or bring the leftovers into work. (Also, when you think about it, it really hasn't been much of a summer, has it?)
I started this soup with bacon. OK, ok, I confess. I start just about *every* soup with bacon. Just a few strips snipped into small pieces with scissors or a knife and browned at the bottom of my Dutch oven. I scooped out the crispy pieces and set them aside and added minced onion, garlic, and shallots to the bacon fat to saute for a few minutes. (Feel free chop coarsely instead of mincing. This soup will soon be pureed, and the beauty of a pureed soup is that you can be really lazy and haphazard with your chopping. No one cares. It will cook just the same and you'll blend it all up anyway.) Then in went the asparagus pieces (with tips reserved for garnish). I topped it off with some chicken stock and let it cook for a bit just until the asparagus was softened. I pureed everything with my immersion blender (I love that thing so much, I just might make it my maid of honor when the time comes!). A generous glug of cream to round things out and some salt and pepper to season. And that's it! Serve in these ridiculously adorable bowls with handles and top with generous sprinkles of bacon and asparagus tips.
Mmmm...don't you love summer soup?
Creamy Asparagus Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 Strips bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 pounds asparagus
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground pepper
1. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized dutch oven. Add the bacon pieces and let cook over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon pieces and reserve, leaving the bacon fat and oil in the pot.
2. Add the chopped onions and shallots. Saute for about 5 - 10 minutes or until the onions and shallots turn slightly caramelized.
3. While the onions are cooking, prepare your asparagus. Trim and discard the fibrous portion of the asparagus (about 1 inch at the base). Cut the asparagus tips and set them aside. Cut the asparagus stalks into 1-inch segments and reserve.
4. Add the asparagus stalks to the onions and saute for one minute.
5. Pour in the vegetable or chicken broth and let simmer for about 15 minutes.
6. While the asparagus simmers, small saucepan with a few cups of water to boil and quickly blanch the asparagus tips by dropping into the boiling water and letting cook for 2 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water and set aside. (This can also be done in the microwave)
7. Use an immersion (or regular) blender to puree the soup until creamy. Add the cream to your taste and season with salt and pepper.
8. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with generous sprinkles of the reserved asparagus tips and the crisped bacon bits.