Asparagus stems…what do you do with them? Most people trim them and then throw them away. Stop it! Save those asparagus stems and cut them up for use in soup at a later date. A key factor for profitability in a restaurant is minimizing waste. Your home grocery budget shouldn’t be any different. If you discard a third of the asparagus you purchased, you just increased your cost by 30%!
Asparagus has a distinctive assertive taste that isn’t really suitable for a vegetable stock, but it’s perfect for soup on its own. After trimming the ends from the spears I cut them into smaller pieces and toss them in a zip top plastic bag and stick them in the freezer. When you’ve built up a decent amount you’re all set to make soup…from what would have ended up in the garbage!
Cream of Asparagus Soup
This is a great use for the tougher ends of asparagus stalks after snapping them off. Store the chopped pieces in the freezer until you’re ready to make soup!
Yield: Approximately 24 oz. (4 6-oz. servings)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped asparagus stalks (approx. ¼-inch)
½ cup diced yellow onion (1/4-inch)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place butter and olive oil in a two or three-quart saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until butter is melted. Add asparagus and yellow onion to oil/butter mixture along with salt. Toss to coat with butter and turn heat to medium. Cook until vegetables are sweated down to a soft, tender consistency without taking on color.
Sprinkle flour over softened vegetables and toss to coat, cooking until flour absorbs excess fat and develops a slightly nutty aroma. Add chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Allow soup base to cook until asparagus is very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat and transfer in batches to a blender and puree vegetables. Puree only a small amount at a time and hold lid on canister tightly to avoid the steam from blowing soup upward due to intensity of steam being created from the hot liquid in the blender. Once soup is pureed, strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean saucepan to remove all vegetable solids. Add heavy cream and black pepper to taste and place over medium-high heat until heated through.
Tip: After cooking and pureeing, the soup will have a drab green color. To enhance the color naturally, rinse the blender jar after the last batch of puree to remove any fiber. Pour in enough of the strained soup to cover the blender blades and add a small handful of fresh parsley leaves or spinach leaves. Puree for a couple of minutes until no individual specks of green remain. Stir back into remaining soup. Heat and adjust final seasoning.
- Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or tarragon
- Savory whipped cream (lightly seasoned with salt) and a sprinkle of lemon zest.
- Jumbo lump Crabmeat or Poached oysters (lightly cook oysters in the soup before pureeing the soup. Remove with slotted spoon and add to the center of the soup after pouring into a soup plate.
- Serve with Green Onion & Gruyere Palmier Rolls
- Puree of Asparagus Soup: Omit the cream.
- Vegan: Use all olive oil or olive oil and margarine for sweating vegetables and use vegetable stock for chicken stock. Omit Cream.
- Gluten-Free: Substitute a gluten-free flour blend for all-purpose flour or use instant potato flakes to thicken the soup after pureeing.