Food + Wine

Ends to a Mean Soup

I am a big asparagus fan.  It may be one of my favorite vegetables.  I think I just feel rather fancy when I eat it.  (Plus, even though it’s a quite unpleasant side effect, you gotta love a vegetable that won’t let you forget it was there.)  Both my kids love asparagus, my husband loves it, so when it’s available, I cook it a lot at home.  So much so, that I began saving the trimmed ends in the freezer and, as of yesterday, my gallon sized zip bag was completely full…and it’s only early April.  I knew I wanted to make a soup with it, I just wasn’t sure what kind.  Just like when I save the hulls from my homemade bread for breadcrumbs, the leftover thickened liquid from my beef braises for the next braise, and duck fat from a meal for duck fat potatoes, making my ingredients work for me as much as possible makes me feel very ‘Housewife of the Depression Era’.  I feel powerful.  I feel in control.  I feel…like sharing this recipe with you so you can, in turn, feel as powerful and in control as I do.

Enjoy the power!  (and a bowl of this delightful soup!)

*’Cream’ of Asparagus Soup
 (makes ~1 1/2 quarts)

-Take your gallon sized freezer bag filled with asparagus ends and place into a large pot.  Cover with water.  Salt heavily.  Bring to a boil and simmer, covered for an hour.  The asparagus ends should be mushy now.

-Scoop out the ends and place into a food processor.  Process on high until they become as smooth as they want to be (they will most likely still be very stringy.)  You will probably end up doing this in 3 batches.

-Transfer the mixture into a large sieve or strainer fixed over a large bowl and, using a spatula, carefully but firmly press down to extract all the broth and fine pureed bits, leaving all the tough parts in the strainer (there will be a lot of tough parts).

-Discard the tough parts, compost if you can, and set aside the asparagus broth.  Reserve the asparagus water as well, you may need it to thin out the soup, but it’s also now a good base for another vegetable soup.  (All the above steps can be done far in advance if need be.  Just store the broth and water in the fridge, in airtight containers.)

-In the same large pot you boiled the asparagus in, drizzle with a fair amount of olive or canola oil to coat the bottom + 3 TB of unsalted butter (omit if you want a vegan soup, and use coconut oil if you’d like).  Turn the heat on medium and once hot, add 4 medium, starchy potatoes that you’ve peeled and diced, (the ‘medium’ potatoes should be about the size of a clenched fist, but if they’re larger or smaller, adjust the amount as necessary), and 1 medium yellow or white onion, dicedSalt liberally.

-Allow the veggies to sweat, covering the pan if necessary to speed up the process.  Once softened, pour in about 1/3-1/2 cup dry, white wine or a good splash.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the bits of potato that are probably stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Let the wine bubble for about a minute or so.

-Add in your reserved asparagus broth (the liquid you extracted from using the strainer), 2 bay leaves and several sprigs of fresh thyme (tie with twine if you’d like so they’re easy to remove later).

-Cover the pot and simmer on low for about an hour, 30 minutes is fine if you’re in a hurry.  Turn the heat off, remove the bay and thyme, and use an immersion blender to blend until completely smooth.  It should coat a wooden spoon and be thick enough that when you run your finger down the back of the coated spoon, the finger line should remain (like when you’re making custard).  If you think it’s too thick, add some of your reserved asparagus water.  Check your seasoning.  If you seasoned well throughout the process, it should be perfect but adjust it now to your liking.  Some white pepper is a nice touch.

-Serve alone or with a Croque Madame.

 

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