A Creamy Spring Soup Served Warm or Chilled
- Servings: 6 to 8.
This soup can be served either warm or chilled. While this version calls for the addition of heavy cream, you can lighten it by instead using half and half or else low fat sour cream. The soup can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated, making it a perfect first course for a dinner party.
- 2 pounds asparagus (about 2 bunches but weigh at the store to be sure)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large shallots, finely chopped or sliced
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 5 cups good quality boxed chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy cream (you can substitute half and half or low fat sour cream)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons salt (adjust depending on the amount of salt in the chicken stock)
- About 4 drops Tabasco or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or more to taste
- Thoroughly rinse the asparagus, making sure there is no sand in the tips.
- Trim off the tough bottoms of the stalks. Peel the stalks and cut them into 1-inch pieces. You may want to save about a dozen tips or a few whole stalks to use later to garnish each serving (see our Tip below).
- In a large saucepan or medium soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat, or if you're using olive oil, heat the oil on medium heat.
- Add the shallots and sliced garlic clove and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots soften but do not brown.
- Add the pieces of asparagus and 1 teaspoon salt and 4 drops of Tabasco and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the asparagus is completely soft and tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and in batches, purée in a food processor or blender until it's completely liquefied.
- If you want a completely smooth soup, strain through a fine sieve or chinois to remove any remaining bits of asparagus.
- Add the cream and stir to combine. If you've used sour cream, you may need to add up to a cup of chicken broth to thin the soup to your desired consistency.
- If you will be serving the soup immediately, pour it into another, clean sauce pan; if you will be cooling and storing the soup, pour into a bowl or other container.
- If you plan to serve the soup warm, reheat and add the lemon juice and taste and adjust the seasonings.
- If you plan to serve the soup chilled, remove from the refrigerator, stir in the lemon juice, and taste and adjust the seasonings.
This pretty green soup can be served with tiny toasted croutons or you can garnish it with either the reserved asparagus tips that you've gently steamed so that they're tender, or else little pieces of diced asparagus stalks, adding jewel-like texture to the soup's soft, smooth surface.
Tip: Tabasco is a perfect alternative to freshly ground pepper because it adds heat and flavor without adding any specks to interrupt a pale soup's appealing finish. Just go slowly so that you don't over-season.
Tip: Be careful when putting hot ingredients into a food processor or blender because the liquid will rise up when the blades begin to turn. Prevent overflows and burns by not filling the container to the top. If need be, purée in batches.