Asparagus Soup

One of the first signs of spring in southern France is the abundance of asparagus and strawberries in the local markets. In mid-May we are still eating asparagus and looking for new ways to prepare it. After the great success of the cauliflower soup we decided to try an asparagus cream soup which we ended up loving just as much. I hope you will as well.

2 pounds of asparagus (green or white)
2 shallots, minced
Oil or butter for sautéing vegetables
6 cups chicken stock
½ cup crème fraiche or sour cream (optional, for extra richness)
Salt and pepper to taste
A dash of lemon for brightness

To prepare the asparagus cut off the tips of about a dozen stalks to be used later for the garnish. With the remaining stalks, break off and discard the cut end at the lowest joint that will break off easily. This will prevent having woody stems in your soup. Cut the remaining stalks and tips into 2 inch sections.

In a Dutch oven or soup pot heat the butter or oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until soft, about three minutes. Add the asparagus sections and sweat for an additional 5 minutes. Next add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer until the asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, blanch the reserved asparagus tips in boiling water until crisp-tender 1-2 minutes and immediately cool in ice water.

When the soup has finished cooking, i.e. the asparagus is tender, blend the soup using an immersion blender or in batches if using a blender or food processer.

Correct the seasoning, add the crème fraiche or sour cream if desired and a dash of lemon to taste.

Serve in soup bowls and garnish with the reserved asparagus tips.