Does anything else announce spring like asparagus soup? It's very color is evocative of the budding trees and nascent blades of grass peeping out from under the dry brown cover of their older brothers lost to winter chill. Then the flavor - fresh and bright like early morning but with a warmth that says, "I know it's still chilly out there, girl. Here, let me wrap you in my velvety soup love and keep you warm."
Confession time: I was a picky eater as a child. Gasp! You're shocked, I know. And here's the kicker: not only did I love to eat (yeah, big surprise), I didn't know I was a picky eater! I ate everything my mother made me. I just didn't realize that she only gave me food she knew I would eat. Oh, those crafty Moms! My Mom (both my parents, really) were adamant that their children not grow up to be rude and spoiled brats. If someone else cooked for you, or invited you to their home, you ate as much as you could, even if you wanted to die inside, and you thanked them for it.
It is for that reason that I can still remember the day I first tried asparagus. I was studying in Italy on my junior year abroad and the director of our program invited a small group of us to dinner. We were served steamed asparagus. Now, it wasn't a revelation of flavor (that didn't happen until I had grilled asparagus), but it was a revelation to me at that time that I liked something new. I began trying all kinds of new foods and new ways to prepare them. Grilled or roasted asparagus are still my all time favorite ways to cook asparagus so I incorporated roasted asparagus into this soup which I also served as the first course at our Easter dinner.
This is a lightened up version of a classic asparagus soup that contains no heavy cream (or dairy) and is still as luscious and decadent as the original. If you've been reading this blog regularly you know I'm not a niche cook. I don't make specifically vegan dishes or gluten-free dishes (or other diets). Heck, I don't even make exclusively cake! But many of my recipes are easily adaptable to vegan cooking and this recipe for asparagus soup happens to be already gluten-free (since the gluten is in the garnish omit the croutons and substitute either a garnish of sauteed mushrooms or a few drops of truffle oil) and is easily vegan adapted by using vegetable stock in place of chicken stock.
Roasted Asparagus Soup with Truffle Scented Croutons ~ serves 10-12
5.5 cups asparagus (approximately 3.5-4lbs)
2 cups leek, chopped
1.5 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, large dice
1 qt chicken or vegetable stock
salt & pepper to taste
preheat oven to 450º F.
Wash asparagus and trim off woody ends. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer on cookie sheets and roast 15 minutes, rotating half-way through.
While the asparagus is cooking heat one tablespoon olive oil in a soup pot and saute leeks until just beginning to caramelize. Add potatoes and cover with stock. Cook until potatoes are tender.
When asparagus is done, remove from oven and trim off enough feathery tops for garnish (you can trim all tops if desired and reserve for another application such as brie and asparagus crostini, salads, pasta or risotto). Chop remaining stalks into one inch sized pieces. Add to soup and blend with an immersion blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Truffle Scented Croutons
4-5 slices of your favorite hearty bread, cubed (crust removed)
1 T olive oil (I use leftover oil from roasting asparagus)
2 t truffle oil
Combine olive oil and truffle oil in a bowl. Toss with bread cubes. Lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast at 450º F until crisp, approximately 15 minutes. Set aside.
Serve soup hot with a few croutons and two asparagus tops.