Yeah! It is the first day of spring. I love seeing the spring crops arrive at the farmers market. Asparagus is one of my favorite spring vegetables. Here is a lighter version of Cream of Asparagus Soup, using half-n-half instead of heavy cream. It is light and refreshing, not heavy as some cream soups are. By adding a potato to the soup, you still get that creamy consistancy without the added fat.
Cream of Asparagus Soup ~ Serves 4 ~Active Time 20 Minutes, Total Time 50 Minutes
2 pounds asparagus
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 russet potato, peeled and chopped
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
2-3 cups baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup half-n-half
Cut tips from 8 stalks of asparagus, 1-1/2 inches from the top and set aside. Cut stalks and all remaining asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces.
Melt butter in heavy 4 quart sauce pan over medium low heat. Add the onions, carrot, celery and garlic and cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus pieces (not the saved tips), salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and chicken stock. Bring to to a boil, reduce and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the asparagus is very tender. Add spinach, stir until wilted, 2-3 minutes.
While soup simmers, cook reserved asparagus tips in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes then drain.
Bring soup to room temperature. Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth, transferring to a bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids), and return to pan. Add half-n-half. Adjust seasoning by adding salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and heat for 5 minutes. Ladle into 4 bowls and top with saved asparagus tips. Drizzle with half-n-half if desired.
This also makes a great first course and will serve 8, if using small cups. I used my espresso cups in the picture above.