I’ve been guilty of letting a beautiful bunch of asparagus spears spoil in the fridge in the past. But since discovering this recipe, those spears will be the first course on my homemade dinner menu every chance I can get.
Now, this vegetable is an acquired taste, particularly if you’re used to enjoying it buttered and roasted alongside a juicy filet at a steakhouse. But once you elevate its mildly bitter and grassy flavor with just the right pairings and seasonings, you’re in for a treat.
I especially like the green variety of asparagus over the white or purple kinds, because of the deeper flavor that it has. It can stand up to intense herbs and spices like garlic and cayenne. And it works deliciously with hearty meats like bacon or prosciutto.
Green asparagus comes conveniently in three standard sizes – thin, thick, and meaty.
The thick and meaty spears are well-suited to intense cooking techniques, like roasting or cooking in the pressure cooker, and they are also perfect for blending into soups. But the skin on the thicker spears doesn’t cook down easily, so always remember to peel the lower half of each one before you proceed with a recipe.
I have found the thinner version is not more delicate in flavor, but it works well in salads and sandwiches.
For this soup, cook the spears briefly to maintain their nutrients and color. The cream and sherry vinegar mixed in with the vegetable stock base and the blended spears help to refine the flavor, adding a luxurious feel on the tongue as well.
I’m not a big fan of onions, a common ingredient in soup bases, so the sauteed shallots are a tasty compromise. Sauteing them in butter softens their natural pungency and sweetens them just a bit.
The lemon juice and zest add a bright, acidic spark that cuts through the cream, balancing out the flavors of all of the other ingredients.
While I do use kosher salt, you may find that the lemon mimics that savoriness that you’re looking for just enough. Feel free to reduce the salt or omit it entirely when you make this at home.
While this healthy veggie won’t last long in my fridge – or yours! – you’ll still want to wrap each bundle gently in either a paper towel or dry kitchen towel when you bring it home. Keep them away from too much moisture. If they’ve gone limp, sadly you’ll have to toss them.
Spring is usually the best time for asparagus, but you should be able to find it at most grocery stores year-round.
To select the best, take a look at the tips of the spears. They should be tightly closed and compact. Set aside any that looked frayed.
Also check the cut ends. Ditch any bunches that are dried out or discolored.
As with most fresh vegetable soups, you’ll want to eat this immediately. Store it in the fridge for a day or two at most if you have any leftovers.Print
It’s a garden in a bowl. Fresh asparagus is blended with shallots, a touch of sherry vinegar, and cream. A hint of lemon makes it tangy.
- 1 pound medium green asparagus
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large shallot, minced (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 cups vegetable stock (homemade or low-sodium store bought)
- 2 cups cold water, divided
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Peel the cut ends of the asparagus spears about 2 inches from the bottom. Discard shavings. Cut spears in half horizontally. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
- Add the shallots. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until softened, stirring constantly.
- Lower heat to medium-low, add the flour, and cook for about 60 seconds, stirring constantly until thoroughly combined.
- Whisking constantly, gradually add the vegetable stock. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
- To blanch the asparagus, bring 1 cup cold water to a boil in a medium-size pot. Create an ice bath in a large bowl by filling it with about 2 cups of ice and 1 cup cold water to cover.
- As soon as the water has come to a boil, turn off the heat and add the asparagus.
- Allow it to blanch for 1 1/2 minutes, then remove with tongs or drain immediately, and transfer the spears to the ice bath. Submerge spears with tongs and allow them to cool in the ice bath for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander, pat dry, and set aside.
- Add vegetable stock mixture and blanched spears to a high-speed blender, and blend on high for 30 seconds. If you like, reserve a few spears for garnish.
- Add heavy cream, sherry vinegar, kosher salt, ground black pepper, and lemon juice. Blend on high for another 30 seconds.
- Transfer soup to a large saucepan or stockpot and simmer for 5 minutes on medium-low heat.
- Serve immediately, garnished with lemon zest, and a few thinly sliced blanched asparagus spears if you wish.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Vegetables
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Soup
Keywords: asparagus, soup, cream, spring recipe
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep Asparagus and Shallots
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the bottom ends of the asparagus spears starting about 2 inches from the bottom. Discard the shavings, or add them to a homemade vegetable stock.
For easier peeling, you can lay each stalk down one at a time on a cutting board. Peel, rotate, and repeat.
If you can only find thin asparagus, increase the quantity to 1 1/2 pounds and skip peeling them. You can simply trim the ends if needed instead.
Cut the spears in half horizontally, and trim the cut ends. Set them aside.
Peel the shallot and cut it in half vertically. Mince it into small cubes, yielding about 1/2 cup total.
Step 2 – Cook Shallots and Make Roux
Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
Add the shallots. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until softened, stirring constantly.
Lower the heat to medium-low, add the flour, and cook, stirring until thoroughly combined. This should take about 60 seconds.
Step 3 – Make Soup Base
Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thickened.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.
Step 4 – Blanch Asparagus and Blend
Blanching the spears will par-cook them, preserve their color, and make for a brighter soup.
Using a medium-size pot, bring 1 cup of cold water to a boil.
Create an ice bath in a large bowl by adding 2 cups of ice and the remaining water.
After the water has come to a boil, turn off the heat and immediately add the asparagus. Allow the vegetables to sit in the water for 1 1/2 minutes, then drain immediately.
Shock the spears by transferring them to the ice bath. This will stop the cooking process.
Submerge the asparagus in the ice bath and allow the vegetables to cool for 2 minutes. Strain, pat dry, and set aside. Reserve a few pieces for garnish, if you like.
Get out your blender, and add the vegetable stock mixture and the blanched asparagus. Blend on high for 30 seconds.
Add the heavy cream, sherry vinegar, kosher salt, ground black pepper, and lemon juice. Blend on high for another 30 seconds.
Step 5 – Finish and Serve
If you have a Vitamix or professional-grade blender, you can blend the soup on high until it’s hot enough to serve, in approximately 3-4 minutes.
If not, you can finish the cooking process on the stove instead. Using a large saucepan, add the soup and simmer it for 5 minutes on medium-low heat.
Serve immediately, and don’t forget to garnish each bowl with lemon zest!
For a fancier presentation, you can also cut a few spears thinly on a diagonal and sprinkle them on top.
Try It with Cayenne and Lime
The shallots season this soup gently and the lemon adds just the right amount of acid to cut through the creaminess of the base. But you may be craving more of a kick.
If so, cayenne and lime will blend beautifully with the asparagus, with a touch of heat to play against the sweeter acidity of the lime.
Swap out the lemon zest and juice for lime in equal amounts as what’s described in the recipe above. Then add about a teaspoon of cayenne. Or two, if you dare!
You can also play with the garnishes, as well. Though the thin slices of asparagus are beautiful, we love topping off the soup with savory granola for extra texture.
Did you use a blender to cook your soup, or did you stick with the stove? Let us know in the comments!
Soup’s always on at Foodal. Take a look at these tasty veggie options next, and get that stockpot ready:
- Creamy Butternut Squash Apple Soup with Bacon
- Turmeric Red Lentil Soup with Kale
- Wholesome Carrot Soup to Warm You Up on a Cold Day
Photos by Katherine and Eddie D’Costa, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on April 12, 2010. Last updated May 1, 2020.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
Eddie and Katherine D’Costa are a married professional chef and journalist duo from Atlanta, where they cook up a variety of international dishes, tested for the home cook. Katherine holds an MA in journalism from Northeastern University and Eddie’s professional experience spans 20 years working with Wolfgang Puck, Jean George Vongerichten, and Todd English.