I was inspired to make this asparagus soup on a return trip from visiting family in Germany. It’s spargel season over there and the German’s are crazy about it. Spargel is German for asparagus, both the green and white varieties. In Germany, however, the white asparagus is favored over the green. Just mention spargel and my niece Rebecca’s eyes light up!
White asparagus is completely covered with soil to keep the sun from creating chloryphyll. The spears are little tougher than their green siblings and require peeling. I don’t quite get the appeal, though, and prefer the green variety.
On the flight home, I ate white asparagus three times. An appetizer of spargel and prawns. Diced white asparagus with a creamy chive dressing and a couple of shrimp. The entrée, a very dry veal tenderloin with steamed spargel, just plain spears, definitely nothing special. The snack before landing was spargel soup and salad. Again white asparagus in a creamy base with chives. I bet the appetizer sauce and the soup were based on the same recipe, one I’m not recreating here because it was pretty mediocre, but it was plane food after all.
The soup inspired me to think about bite-size pieces of asparagus in the soup instead of a puree, and why not grill the asparagus adding a little smokiness. The creaminess comes from two sources, a Russet potato cooked in the base and a little heavy cream at the end. The chives add a nice, mild onion flavor to the soup.
You’ll notice my Creamy Chive & Asparagus Soup is a beige color; I use a roasted vegetable stock. I just love the richness of those roasted vegetables in the stock. Use a regular vegetable stock to get a creamy white soup.
In culinary school, I was taught to use white pepper in cream soups. The idea being that no one wanted to see little black specks in their cream soup. I find white pepper very bitter and only use it in a four-peppercorn blend. I like black pepper and the little pieces of peppercorn don’t bother me. Use white peppercorn if you prefer or no pepper at all.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups diced onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 2 minced cloves garlic
- 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 large Russet potato, cut into small cubes
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 bunches asparagus, washed and trimmed
- olive oil
- coarse salt
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup minced chives
- Preheat the grill.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions, celery, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes to soften the vegetables.
- Add the potato and stock, bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are very soft. This will depend on the size of the potato chunks.
- In the meantime, dry the asparagus, drizzle a little olive oil and a sprinkling of salt over the spears and toss to coat well.
- Place the spears on the grill and cook, turning once. Depending on the thickness of the spears, this can take 2 minutes or more. The asparagus should still be firm and bright green.
- Remove and cut into bite-size pieces on the bias and reserve for the puréed soup.
- Purée the soup in batches in a food processor or blender, or use an immersion blender in the saucepan, until smooth.
- Add the asparagus, cream and chives to the soup and reheat, if necessary.